Today is Memorial Day here in the United States of America, and so it is that all government buildings are shut down, including the schools. It is a day to reflect upon the great sacrifices made by men and women throughout history in the defense of our nation. I tend to avoid any overt religious commentary on this blog, for the simple fact that I wish to focus on my work as an educator, more specifically so as a substitute teacher, but I thought I’d make an exception today. I figure that if we truly believe that we are “one nation under God” then it is totally okay for me to bring up my own faith every now and then.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–a church commonly known to many as “the Mormon Church” because of our belief in the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon as an additional book of scripture, similar in purpose to the Holy Bible. I give this introduction because, on this Memorial Day, I have been thinking of one of my great military heroes. There are some, even within my faith community, who do not value him for what he represents, but I am not one of those. This man was named Moroni, and he was the chief captain of the military forces of a group of people known as the Nephites. As the chief captain, he had to lead his people in war against those who sought to take away their freedoms.
There is an account in the Book of Mormon that tells of him rallying the people together under what was known as the Title of Liberty. This was a flag or banner made from his own coat that had written upon it these words: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” It was with this that he raised an army and conquered his people’s enemies.
But what I love most about Captain Moroni is that he did not glory in battle. He understood that his purpose was not to conquer, but to protect, and he trusted always in his God. As the Book of Mormon says about him,
11And Moroni was a astrong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect bunderstanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
12Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the awelfare and safety of his people.
13Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had asworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
14Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught anever to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.
15And this was their afaith, that by so doing God would bprosperthem in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;
16And also, that God would make it known unto them awhitherthey should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; bnot in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.
17Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto aMoroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the bdevilwould never have power over the hearts of the children of men.
And so it is on this Memorial Day that I give honour to the men and women who “labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of [our] people.” To all the families of all the slain of our battles, I give thanks for your sacrifice, and for the sacrifice of your loved ones.