By Leah Sander
LEESBURG — Those at Leesburg’s Memorial Day service were reminded they should be grateful for what they have as Americans.
Clunette United Methodist Church’s Pastor Mike Beezley spoke on that topic at the service on Monday, May 30, at Leesburg Cemetery. The event was preceded by a parade.
Beezley referenced the phrase “the pursuit of happiness” from the Declaration of Independence and mentioned how being thankful is connected to happiness.
“We surely seem to spend an awful lot of time tearing each other down rather than building stronger relationships, but today gratitude should be what it is most about, and not just this day especially, but everyday,” he said. “And today moments ago and right now we did that. We gathered in gratitude, did we not, for the blessings of this nation and for those who gave so much up to and including their very own lives so that we can enjoy our lives, so that in these United States of America we could continue in our pursuit of happiness.”
Beezley then said Americans should work to unify, which would promote happiness, versus being divisive, which would have the opposite effect.
“Dividing over issues, politics, etc., isn’t going to help anyone in their pursuit of happiness,” he continued. “The desire for the pursuit of happiness is something that we all share. And if this day is about anything, it is to remember that it has been delivered and protected at great cost. And we should all share in gratitude for the sacrifice others made so that we can still pursue happiness today because it is in gratitude that we all learn to be happier people.”
“And if our nation’s founding document can advise us, then let me also say as a Christian minister that there’s another document that can advise us as well: the Holy Scriptures,” said Beezley. “They too speak to how gratitude leads to happiness. A reading from Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 says this: ‘I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all their toil. This is the gift of God.'”
“Gratitude for the gifts of God leads us toward happiness and out of that being a blessing to others because we have been so richly blessed,” continued Beezley. “In the end we all as American citizens must decide what to do with these words: ‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ May I suggest that we might try a little harder to give gratitude a higher place in our daily living to help us all in that shared pursuit of happiness. I think making sure that we are all given the same privilege is part of that and not working to reduce it for those we disagree with is one of the best ways that we can show our gratitude for those whom we memorialize today.”
“May we all pursue happiness through gratitude for the life and the liberty that we enjoy today,” said Beezley. “The reason why we’re gathered here today is out of acknowledgement that these things were given to us at an expense of human sacrifice. Other Americans gave their lives so that you and I can live life and enjoy liberty and pursue happiness. May we learn or relearn to be grateful in order to find that happiness. Rather than spreading divisiveness, let us spread happiness in honor of those who gave all so that we could all pursue it together.”
Following Beezley’s talk, Leesburg Town Council President Christina Archer read a list of names of military veterans buried in the Leesburg, Oswego and Clunette cemeteries.
Veteran Steve Allen placed a wreath in the cemetery, and some veterans did a gun salute. Following that, Warsaw Community Schools’ music teacher Joe Peloza played “Taps,” and doves were released.