The great theologian Thomas Campbell once said, “To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.” This last weekend marked the unofficial kickoff date for summer as families gathered with one another to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the country they love. Memorial Day Weekend is known for being a time of celebration, but also a time of grief for those who lost loved ones in the past. Graveyards around the country are visited by folks that wish to remember the fallen; and the comfort they receive from those visits brings more serenity than any other time. This is a great time to remember those incredible people who had so much influence on our lives, but it is also time to remember the legacies that these men and women left for us.
One of my favorite historical figures in gaming is a man named Ralph Baer, the talented engineer who was responsible for developing one of the first home video game consoles, the Magnavox Odyssey. Baer was born in 1922 to a Jewish family in Germany, and as the political air began to change, his parents decided to leave the country before things got worse. They immigrated to New York when he was 14 years old and Ralph soon became an American citizen. He was later drafted into the US military, who saw Baer’s potential as a tech expert and recruited him to work Allied Intelligence in London as a radio technician. His service in that field saved an incalculable number of soldiers, including those Americans who were progressing through the war torn French countryside. After the war was over, Baer easily got work as an engineer at a little machine company called IBM.
Ralph Baer knew that technology could lead to more advancements in entertainment, especially in the home. Aiding in the development of the home television on this side of pond, Baer started experimenting with ways to manipulate the pictures that were being projected through the screen. Working for a company called BAE Systems, Baer used TV technology to create devices used for military application, including radar and HUD displays, but he also began working on something more personal. The Odyessy was a passion project for the inventor, and was developed over a span of 11 years. He believed that games could be played on the television, but those he was working for did not buy into the idea. In 1972, however, Magnavox discovered his little “brown box” and decided to pick it up and sell it commercially. Thus the Magnavox Odyssey was born, making Ralph Baer the so-call “Grandfather of Gaming.”
Ralph Baer passed away in 2014 surrounded by friends and family and the very legacy that he left for people to enjoy. He was a German immigrant that joined the fight against his own countrymen to secure the freedom that we all have in America. Along with that, he gave us the gift of video games, which all of us play freely without thinking about the souls that brought them to us. We are living in the shadow of not only his legacy, but also those who have preserved our faith.
When it comes to being a Christian, we are living in the legacy of the One who laid it all down so that we could live. He began establishing a great Kingdom nearly 2000 years ago, and it is this Kingdom that is still being built upon to this day. He built it using the building blocks of faith, hope, and love; and he showed the ultimate form of love when He gave His life up on a bloody cross for our sins. Jesus left the ultimate legacy of faith, and that legacy echoes in the very words that He spoke mere hours before his death:
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
All of those who came before us, that fought for us and bled for us, have left a legacy of love. They carried their own crosses in the marshy battlefields of Europe, the bloody quagmires of Vietnam, and the harsh winds of Iraq and Afghanistan. They gave their lives so that we could live, but only one of them rose again. Jesus showed us that death is only the beginning, and eternity awaits those who are willing to bind themselves to Him. Let us remember the fallen, but let us also see the possibility of new life in the legacy that is brought by Christ.