Honoring and Observing Memorial Day
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:3-11
For someone unfamiliar with American holidays and traditions, it would be easy to think that Memorial Day was created to be the start of summer, with traditional celebrations taking the form of grilling in the back yard or hunting down good sales on cars, mattresses, and patio furniture.
That perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Like other holidays throughout the year, we must pause and look past the trappings of commercialization to focus on the deeper meaning that moves us toward reflection, and in all things, prayer.
Memorial Day began out of remembrance for those who died during the Civil War, with the earliest recorded observances being call ‘Decoration Day’ for a time to lay flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers and gather in their memory. May 30th was chosen as the original date because flowers would be blooming in most parts of the country, and it would not overlap with the date of any specific Civil War battles. The day would stand alone to honor the sacrifice of all the dead, regardless of the battle they fought in, rank they achieved, or manner they died. Following WWI, the holiday was changed to Memorial Day to honor all fallen service members from all American conflicts. This tradition continues, and Memorial Day is observed as a day to remember and honor the men and women who fought and died for our freedoms, to keep our nation from dividing and breaking apart, and for freedoms and national interests around the world.
This holiday has immense significance to me personally as a military spouse because I know that my husband and our loved ones in the military community stand on the shoulders of the people we honor on Memorial Day: those who came before us, who fought and died. It is also a reminder that it is now our turn – for today’s service members to stand strong in their assignments and duties, and us on the home front to support and serve our spouse and the military community.
The significance extends beyond the military community, of course. While Memorial Day is a uniquely American holiday and not a religious observance, being grateful is a fruitful endeavor, and all our lives are directly impacted and shaped by the sacrifices made to ensure our freedoms. We act on our gratitude by being good stewards of the freedoms that have been secured. As Christians, we can pause and ponder how we are stewarding our freedoms in a God-honoring way. Are we using our freedoms to be hurtful or helpful? Are we serving God, or our self-interests?
As Christians, we walk first and foremost in the spiritual freedom gifted to us through Christ’s resurrection, and then we have the opportunity to live out that spiritual freedom in a nation where men and women have fought and died to secure civil freedoms for all our citizens.
Will you pray with me?
Lord Jesus, You are my Savior and my King, my Risen Savior who has gone ahead to prepare a place for me. Until I join You in eternity, my temporary home is here, and I thank You for the freedoms that have been secured and safeguarded by those who died in the process of securing and safeguarding. Guide me to honor that sacrifice by being a good steward of that freedom that was worth dying for. I want to glorify You in all my ways, carrying out the Great Commission by sharing Your Good News, and fulfilling Your calling to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love my neighbor as myself.
In Jesus name I pray, amen.
Peace and blessings,