Thousands at "Nashville's most patriotic church" were encouraged to pay tribute to the men and women who make it possible for Americans to enjoy their freedoms.
"I am mindful on this weekend, and I hope that we all are, that we have this great freedom because of those in the armed services," former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told thousands over the Memorial Day weekend at Cornerstone Church in Madison, Tenn.
"We owe to them for our citizenship what we owe to Jesus for our salvation," he said. "Jesus told us to remember him. It's the least we can do to remember those who made our citizenship possible as well."
As Americans began Memorial Day celebrations, Cornerstone Church marked its 19th year of honoring those who have served and are currently serving the country. Senior Pastor Maury Davis was presented with a letter of appreciation from the U.S. Navy for not only remembering veterans and active duty personnel but also meeting their spiritual needs through prayer and the streaming of worship services.
Retired Lt. Col. Courtney Rodgers reminded the congregation why service men and women do what they do.
"We do not take an oath to protect a border, a territory, and neither do we pledge allegiance to any individual," said Rodgers, whose father, a marine pilot, was killed in Vietnam. "We take an oath that binds us to the ideological foundation of this nation – to the ideals of freedom within our constitution."
"We leave our families for months, maybe even years, so that you may never have to bow before any earthly king or dictator," she said to applause. "We fight to protect your God-given rights."
With that, she challenged the congregation to share the burden of protecting the freedoms of the American people.
"For neither do we die and fight for you to remain silent," she said.
"Jesus Christ said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and in a republic, that is participation," said Rodgers, who served 28 years in the Air Force and the Air National Guard.
"So you have a Christian and a civic duty to make your Christian voice heard in the ballot box, by your legislators and in the public square where you would address freely any constitutional wrongs or moral wrongs by your representative government. We fight and we die for you to be able to do these things freely without fear of persecution.
"So do not allow apathy to squander your freedom."
Huckabee, a former Republican presidential candidate and a current Fox News host, was the special guest speaker at Cornerstone.
While politicians sometimes get the accolade, he told the congregation, "It is our soldiers, our sailors, our marines, our coast guardsmen and women, and those in our air force, of all of our services who actually keep us free."
Memorial Day is Monday. President Obama is paying his respects at a ceremony at the Abraham Lincoln Cemetery in Elwood, Ill.