Not long ago, I watched episodes of a miniseries: The Man in the High Castle. It depicts what life would be like if we had lost WWII, and Nazi Germany and Japan ruled the world.

In the storyline, the United States is divided: the Greater Nazi Reich in the east and the Japanese Pacific States in the west. The Rocky Mountains serve as a neutral zone – kind of like the DMZ between North and South Korea. There are very few individually-owned automobiles, and little freedom to move about. If you live in Nashville, you likely will never see Las Vegas (which is still desert). Friends turn on each other because they don’t know who to trust. Food is hard to come by. People diagnosed with diseases are euthanized. Anyone’s life can be snuffed out over the tiniest reason.

It’s a bleak picture, but who knows what life would have looked like if we’d lost WWII to Japan and Germany? Who knows what would have happened to ethnic minorities, to our freedoms, to our economies?

Thanks to the brave men and women who faced the unimaginable horrors of war and gave their lives in the name of freedom—from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan—we haven’t had to face the disaster of a dictatorship or communism.  We’ve been free to chart our own paths, limited only by our own skills and abilities and our willingness to work hard to achieve our goals.  We’ve enjoyed freedom of speech, of assembly, of religion, and lived in a democratic republic that has endured longer than others. We have had a rule of law and a free enterprise system that have helped people achieve success.  Despite the internal criticisms of our country, millions of people try to move here for those very reasons.

None of our beautiful country would exist in the same way without the men and women who sacrificed to make it so.  I am thankful that we don’t live under the control of Nazi Germany and dictatorial Japan, and I want us to give our utmost respect and gratitude to those who gave their lives so we could live free.  I ask that each of us give some time to reflect on what this day means. The American flag is real, and for all of us who appreciate the unique strength of our country and want to see more unity and less division, the flag should remind us of the courage and of our service members who gave their lives fighting for this country.

So, while you’re enjoying the barbeque with your family, playing a game of pickleball, swimming – whatever you are doing in the freedom of the United States of America – take a moment to remember those brave men and women who died to make it possible.

God bless you and your families this Memorial Day weekend, and God bless America.