On July 4, 1776, the American colonists declared their independence from Great Britain. Of course, just writing the Declaration of Independence and signing it was not enough. Only after a long, bloody war were the colonists truly free.
One of the people who fought in that war for independence was Mary McCauly. Women didn’t usually enter the military in those days. But many wives did accompany their husbands to the front lines, in the same way that independent contractors accompany our troops today. These women cooked the meals, patched the clothes, and took care of the wounded. In many ways, they shared in the hardships of the soldiers.
Mary McCauly, too, went with her husband into war - and she became a hero!
It happened during the battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778. The day was very hot. Many soldiers were dropping from exhaustion rather than enemy bullets. Mary found a cool spring and carried pitcher after pitcher of water to the tired, thirsty soldiers. On one of her trips, Mary saw a wounded soldier, picked him up, and carried him on her back to safety!
When she returned to the battlefield, her husband was helping fire a cannon. He soon fell, wounded. Now his cannon crew didn’t have enough soldiers to keep on fighting. It would have to be withdrawn from the battle. When Mary saw this, she picked up the ramrod her husband had been using. She did his job, pushing the gunpowder down into the cannon so it could be fired. With Mary’s help, the cannon crew continued to fight throughout the rest of the battle.
When the smoke from the battle cleared, General Washington himself heard about Mary’s heroism. He made her a noncommissioned officer, and from then on everyone called her “Sergeant Molly.” She is also known as “Molly Pitcher.”
We thank God for people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Molly Pitcher, and all the other early leaders in our country. They made sacrifices so that we could enjoy freedom today - especially freedom to worship God in peace and without fear of persecution.
Many people have fought and died so we can live in freedom. They sacrificed their lives for us. That’s an awesome thing!
And it reminds us of an even bigger, more important sacrifice. Our Lord Jesus sacrificed himself for us. He left his beautiful home in heaven to be born in an ordinary, smelly stable as a little baby. He left the praises of the holy angels for the arguing of his disciples and the insults of his enemies. He laid aside all his privileges as God. The Bible says Jesus “took the humble position of a slave” and obediently humbled himself even further by dying “a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7–8 NLT).
Now, we don’t have to be afraid anymore that God may punish us for our failures to do what his Law requires. Jesus took the punishment we deserved. Jesus sets us free from guilt and fear. We are free to praise God. We are free to show Jesus’ love to those around us. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross made all this possible.
This summer, we will celebrate many patriotic holidays: Memorial Day, Flag Day, the Fourth of July, to name a few. As we do that, we can remember to thank God for all the heroes who fought and died so our country could be free. And we can remember to thank God for his Son, Jesus, who died to win eternal freedom for us, freedom from sin and its guilt. That freedom is already ours, and it will be ours forever in heaven.
How is your church celebrating Memorial Day? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
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