This is my Grandpa, Tom Kira. He was born in 1917 in Los Angeles, CA. He loved racing cars, hunting deer, and he loved his country. He fought against the Nazis in World War II and received the Purple Heart. Tom was a true Patriot who loved his country. He grew up like any other American kid--going to school and playing baseball. And, like many others in his generation, when the time came he was ready to fight for his country.
Sure, there were plenty of people who fought for the United States during the war, so what’s so great about my Grandpa Tom? If you can’t tell from the picture, my grandfather was Japanese American. So when he was in Europe, risking his life for the United States, his wife Betty was living in a Japanese Internment Camp in Arkansas. You see, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the United States ordered the forced relocation and incarceration of the Japanese living in the United States, many who were naturalized citizens. These camps were brutal, nothing more than boarded shacks, with most families living in one room. My father, Tom Jr., was born at the camp and lived his first year of life in these cold and broken down rooms.
I once asked my grandma Betty, “Why would Grandpa fight for the United States when they locked up his family and friends?” She simply responded, “He was American and wanted to prove his loyalty for his country.” I had to pause and ask myself if I would fight for a country that had failed so miserably. I have had over 25 years to ponder this question. I have thought about words like patriotism, loyalty, and love.
As a Christian, I have come to the conclusion that love for country is similar to a love for others. We don’t love people because they are perfect, we love because Christ first loved us. Love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. Similarly, I love my country, not because it is perfect, but because I am called to love like Christ loved. Our country is in a difficult time. People do not love their country. In fact, loving your country can even be perceived as hateful! People, even Christians, are more concerned about political correctness, being offended, or asserting their rights. Their solution is to protest, protest, and protest more. They protest by attending rallies, organizing movements, and posting their position on Facebook. This is not the Biblical solution. The ultimate solution is a love rooted in the redeeming love of Jesus!
Growing up, I never heard one unkind word from my Grandparents. They loved others and they loved their country. Why? Not because they were passive or wanted to forget. It was because they were Christian. They had been redeemed by the blood of Christ and lived every day immersed in the Gospel. They were simple people with a profound faith. This Memorial Day, I encourage you to love your country like my Grandpa did. Love with sacrifice and loyalty, love like Christ loves us!
"We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:19