The iconic focal point of the partial government shutdown on Tuesday has become the World War II Memorial in Washington. As you are probably aware, the National Park Service was instructed to erect barricades and keep armed guards around the memorial’s perimeter.

Groups of WWII veterans, however, were not impressed with the barricades. These heroes of the greatest generation insisted on access, sweeping past the barricades two days in a row.

Politics and budget issues aside, what got me on reading the news stories was the statement made by the National Park Service concerning why the veterans were allowed to push past the barricades: “The Honor Flights are being granted access to the WWII memorial to conduct First Amendment activities in accordance with National Park Service regulations applicable to the National Mall and Memorial Parks.”

Did you catch that? First Amendment rights.

These American heroes were willing to climb, demand, or force their way through closed gates—do whatever was necessary—because they have First Amendment rights to do so.

Reaching the monument was impractical for the veterans. Difficult. Filled with obstacles. But they did it anyway because of the importance of the monument to them—and because they had First Amendment rights to do it.

I’m not a veteran, and you may or may not be. But, as Americans, you and I also have the right to free speech. As Christians with the gospel of Christ, we have an overwhelming reason to use our free speech. We live in a culture desperate for Christ (whether or not they realize it). We know Him. We have the answer they need!

Godly Christians around the world don’t have the freedom we have. They daily push past barricades of government restrictions to preach the gospel, and they do it at the risk of their lives. But we let the simplest of barricades stand in our way—pride, discomfort, an unwillingness to launch out of our comfort zone or to inconvenience ourselves.

Here we stand—in a world that needs us to exercise our free speech, in a world full of a darkness that makes the light of Christ shine brighter, in unparalleled opportunities to share the truth—but we turn away from the barricades.

We must speak up. We must share the truth. We must pray for national revival and invest ourselves in seeing it happen. If we don’t, we may become memorials ourselves—a monument to what happens when people who hold the truth are not courageous and persistent to share it.

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