This upcoming weekend leads us to the Memorial Day holiday. As I know you’re aware, it is a day of remembrance for all those who served and died in our military keeping us safe and free. It originated in the years following the American Civil War. It started out being called Decoration Day, as people would decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. It became a national holiday in 1971, and at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day, there is a custom to observe a moment of silence.
I know you’re probably wondering, “why is he telling us all of this?”
Memorial Day holds a special place in the hearts of many of our fellow citizens, myself included. Both my father and grandfather served in the military and in the National Guard. It was from them I learned a real reverence for those who serve in uniform, and for those who gave the full measure of sacrifice for all of us to be free.
This set me to thinking about how our observance of Memorial Day also might relate to scripture. In the Old Testament in Jeremiah 29: 7 we’re told, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” The Prophet was telling the exiled Israelites to pray and do all they could to benefit and prosper the place they were. Of course in those days, to say city referred to the government, the seat of a country’s power. So God was instructing the people to serve and be good citizens wherever they found themselves. In serving the nation, they were also prospering themselves.
We, as citizens of the United States of America, are also enjoined to be good members of society. We are to seek the good for our neighbors and fellow citizens, in doing so we all will prosper. Political parties are a necessary part of our life in this democracy, but we are all Americans before we are affiliated with a particular party. We all prosper when we seek each other’s welfare.
The other scripture that comes to mind comes from Jesus himself. In John 15:12-13 Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus is impressing upon his followers the sacredness of true and ultimate love. Real love will give the last full measure of sacrifice for others.
We honor our fallen citizens who gave their lives defending and serving all of us. I believe a day set aside to remember so costly a sacrifice is not only noble, but sacred. I’m not sure one day is enough for what they ultimately gave, maybe it would be best if we remember and honor them every day.
At 3:00 p.m., would you join me in a silent prayer giving thanks to God for all are military who died so valiantly?
As Abraham Lincoln once wrote in a letter to Mrs. Bixby, “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”
May each of you have a happy, safe and reverent holiday.
Love and Peace,