Military veterans who gave their lives followed the examples of Jesus and Mary by putting aside their own needs for others, Archbishop Alexander Sample said during a May 31 Mass for Memorial Day and the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“We remember in a very special way those who made the ultimate sacrifice in battle,” the archbishop said during a morning Mass livestreamed from St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. “They laid down their lives for us so that we could enjoy the freedoms and the blessings of this great land.”

In the Gospel story of the Visitation, Mary hears that her cousin Elizabeth is in need and rushes off to visit, moving beyond the wondrous yet perplexing news that she herself is pregnant without having had relations with a man. Certainly, Mary would be wondering what to tell her parents and her betrothed, Archbishop Sample said. But instead she refuses to become mired in her own quandary and answers a need, traveling in haste to give aid. That’s what soldiers do, too, the archbishop said.

“The call to go off to war is a difficult one,” the archbishop said. “But these brave young men and women, like Mary, set aside their own concerns and their own predicaments and answer that call to serve, to go where there is need and even lay down their lives.”

In dying for others, the archbishop concluded, soldiers enact what Jesus did and said as recorded in John 15:13 — “No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”