Today many American families are enjoying a trip to a river, lake, or water park. Friends are gathering in backyards to grill steaks, relax, and gossip. Shoppers are taking advantage of the holiday sales then resting from their exertions in a movie.
But water parks, backyard barbecues, and malls hold no appeal for thousands of American families. Instead, they remember a loved one who spent every free summer minute on the water. They look at the empty chair at the table where a beloved family member should be sitting. They wonder if they will ever enjoy shopping or movies again.
These families are quietly observing Memorial Day rather than celebrating the beginning of summer because their loved ones have sacrificed their lives for our country and our freedom. Water doesn’t feel so cool, steaks don’t taste so good, bargains don’t seem so wonderful when you’re mourning the death of a loved one. And the heroes we remember today chose to put themselves at risk—not for themselves but for us.
Today in the midst of enjoying the “holiday,” remember it is a “memorial day”—a day to remember and honor those who died for us. Since 1775, more than 848,000 Americans have died in combat, and nearly 1,344,000 have lost their lives during war from all causes of death. You can find these and other interesting statistics at Wikipedia on Answers.com: United States Military Casualties of War.
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. (1928 Book of Common Prayer)
O MERCIFUL God, and heavenly Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men; Look with pity, we beseech thee, upon the mourning of thy servants whose loved ones died in the service of their country. Remember them, O Lord, in mercy; comfort them with a sense of thy goodness; lift up thy countenance upon them, and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (adapted from 1928 Book of Common Prayer)