May 24, 2013

A Day for Remembrance: Revisiting Memorial Day

A thoughtful reader asked me a few weeks ago if I would re-run this article I wrote a couple of years ago about Memorial Day. He said it discussed the origin of the day. I hope this is the right blog post.

I know it is a few days before we get to Memorial Day, but I want to suggest a few ideas as we run up on an important day. Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer holidays in the United States. These kinds of three-day weekends traditionally are times for celebration and family outings. Celebrated in most states on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is a time to remember the U.S. men and woman who lost their lives serving their country. Originally known as Decoration Day, the “powers that be” established the day in 1868 to commemorate Civil War dead. Over the years, it came to serve as a day to remember all U.S. men and women killed or missing in action in all wars.

In truth, Memorial Day is not a church holiday—the church has its own day to remember the memorialized dead which we call “All Saints Day.” Yet, Memorial Day is a way our nation remembers those who gave their lives in service to our country. Other countries also have their equivalents of Memorial Day. In a way, it is too bad that we have to have days like this, but war seems to be an inevitable part of being a country. Remembering the war dead remains about the only way we have to celebrate the gift of life those people have given for the ideals, we as a nation, have identified to lift up and commemorate.

“Wars are not acts of God. They are caused by man, by man-made institutions, by the way in which man has organized his society. What man has made, man can change” [from a Speech at Arlington National Cemetery (Memorial Day, 1945) by Frederick Moore Vinson (1890-1953)].

No matter what your stance is on “war or peace” remember that when we remember the war dead we remember someone’s husband or wife, mother or father, uncle or aunt, or simply friend.

May God continue to bless all of us as we struggle to be what God want us to be.



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