For some, Memorial Day is a holiday from work – a day for family gatherings, shopping the sales, outdoor barbecues, and fun activities.
However, Memorial Day is set aside for a specific purpose: to remember and honor those who have died in the service of their country.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends [his country]. John 15:13
The Memorial Day Foundation reports:
On May 5, 1868 General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed Decoration Day, in his General Order No. 11. It was first observed on May 30, 1868. General Order No. 11 went on to state that: We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance
According to USMemorialDay.org:
To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.”
The USMemorialDay.org site contains the history of Memorial Day; suggested ways to observe the solemn occasion; speeches, prayers, and poems; and much more to help remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
For firsthand accounts from a chaplain in Iraq, read Fr. Jerry’s posts: Another tragedy and Ramp Ceremony and view the photos of the ramp ceremony for one of our fallen soldiers.
Whatever else you do on Memorial Day, I hope you will take a moment to remember and honor those who have given their lives in defense of our freedoms. Perhaps you will join me in this prayer from the Book of Common Prayer:
ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead; We give thee thanks for all those thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence, that the good work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.