Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Memorial Day: Remembering what the Lord has done – By Dean Marini
As the United States commemorates another Memorial Day, I can’t help but recall the words Christ spoke in John 15:13. He said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” The last Monday in May has been set aside for a grateful nation to remember those members of our armed forces that made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives in service of our country. As a Marine, Memorial Day is a sacred day filled with bittersweet memories of brothers and sisters that paid the last full measure and thankfulness for the freedom I enjoy that was purchased with their blood.
Since leaving the Marine Corps I have worked in the television industry both in production and at television stations. Recently I worked on a series of documentaries about veterans. In one of the episodes we focused on women veterans and we were able to highlight the story of an Army veteran who lost her life while working to prevent others from losing their own.
Sharon Lane was born in Zanesville, Ohio but moved to Canton, Ohio at the age of two. After finishing high school she completed nursing school at a local hospital and worked for several years as a nurse. After trying her hand in business classes, she enlisted in the United States Army Nurse Corps Reserve in 1968. 2Lt. Lane was trained in Texas and later worked at an Army hospital in Colorado. While there she was promoted to First Lieutenant and worked in the ICU ward. In 1969 she received orders sending her to Vietnam and was assigned to the ICU ward of the 312th Evacuation Hospital at Chu Lai.
Sharon’s stint in the ICU was short-lived and she was transferred to the Vietnamese ward of the hospital. The work was arduous and took a strong emotional and physical toll on Lane. She worked 12 hour days, 5 days a week and spent much of her off-duty time tending to the more critically wounded soldiers in the ICU. She was loved and respected by everyone who worked with her as well as her patients. Sharon’s last letter to her parents downplayed the danger of enemy mortar fire and she signed it “see you sooner”; those words were prophetic.
Just a few days after sending that letter the hospital came under bombardment from VietCong rocket fire and one of those rockets struck between wards 4A and 4B. Lieutenant Sharon Lane became the only American nurse killed as a direct result of hostile fire. She had dedicated her life to saving the lives of others and wound up losing her own. Today a statue of Sharon stands outside the hospital in Canton that she worked in and the woman’s center there is named in her honor. Several other honors have come as well, and it is an incredible privilege to share the story of this selfless soldier.
As a Christian I see so many parallels between the story of Sharon Lane and our Lord Jesus Christ. Both of them left safety and comfort to go and serve the most critically needy. Jesus left the Father’s side to rescue mankind who was lost in sin and just like Sharon Lane found the work demanding and challenging. John 1:11 reads: “He came to his own and his own received him not.” Sharon found herself working in the Vietnamese ward with people who didn’t speak her language and often times were suspicious of anyone who looked like her. Yet she looked past the differences and treated them with grace and compassion. Jesus came to save the very ones rejecting him and instead of becoming angry, He showed that amazing grace we all like to sing about.
While many do reject Christ, the next verse of John chapter 1 offers good news for anyone who chooses to accept him. Verse 12 reads: “Yet to all who receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God.” Both Sharon Lane and Jesus Christ demonstrated that “greatest love” that John chapter 15 speaks about. The even greater thing to remember is that in the case of Jesus, He didn’t stay in the grave. Three days after laying down His life, He took it back up again. He lives today and is in Heaven preparing a place for everyone who accepts him, interceding for our needs before the Father and readying Himself to come again and gather us to him so that we may be with Him where He is.
I truly hope and pray that at some point during this Memorial Day, you will join me in remembering the courageous and selfless members of our military who have given their lives for us. I ask that you pray for the families who have lost their love ones in those sacrifices. Remember and say thanks for those who loved their fellow Americans so much. And also remember that the God who created us, allowed his Son to die for us so that we can be saved and spend Eternity with them.
Written by Dean Marini