A group of men was struggling up a steep hill. Lungs sucking in the night air. Thighs
burning from exertion. Sweat streaming down grimy faces. One of the men was named
This was no ordinary hill. It was in Korea in the early 1950’s, and the men were United
States Marines. Reems was their lieutenant.
Suddenly, there was the staccato rhythm of machine guns and the ear-splitting blasts of
hand grenades. Shadowy figures, which the Marines knew to be Chinese, darted on and over
the crest of the hill. Reems called the squad leaders into a pit in the ground to receive the
strategy for driving the enemy from its position.
A small, dark object flew through the cacophony of battle and plummeted into the
group of warriors. “Grenade!” someone bellowed. Each man scrambled to press himself against
the side of the hole. Each man, that is, except one. That one fell on his knees and groped
frantically for the grenade. He found it and, like a football player recovering a fumble, drew it to
himself. A moment later, a flash and a boom tore his body apart.
There was a pungent odor along with ringing ears. The Marines cleared their heads as
best as they could and crawled to the crumpled body – hands missing, a deep gash across the
abdomen. Reems was dead.
One of the squad leaders with blood coursing down his own face and his mind foggy
from the explosion inquired of all of them and no one in particular, “Why did he do it?”
Again, as that Marine was helped downhill to an aide station repeated, “Why did he do
it?” There was no reply. No one could fathom the motive. (This account was adapted from the
book, Devotion, by Adam Makos.)
Centuries previously, another man on another hill died so that others might live. And
many others since then have asked, “Why did he do it?”
He did it so we don’t have to. As Paul wrote, “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
By rights, each of us could die for our sins, but that is not required of us because Christ died for
Why did He do it?
He did it so we might be forgiven. He was the perfect sacrifice to cover the sins of all
Why did He do it?
He did it out of love. Not a human kind of love that seeks its own fulfillment, but a divine
love which is devoted to the well-being of someone else.
The words of Christ can be applied not only to Him but also to Lt. Reems – “Greater love
has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
This Memorial Day, whether you go to a cemetery or some special service or go no place
at all, remember the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for something greater than
themselves. Honor those who paid the price for our freedom. And every day, remember the
One who paid the price for our salvation.
As you do those things, ask “Why did they do it?”