I am grateful that you have chosen to take time out of your holiday weekend to worship the Lord with us. I humbly ask each of us to prayerfully consider that in the United States, Memorial Day should be far more than the “unofficial beginning of summer.” It should have more meaning to us than simply a day off of work, a three-day weekend, or a time to enjoy friends and barbecue some steaks.
In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed an official proclamation regarding Memorial Day, and in 1971, Congress officially set-aside the last Monday of May as an official Federal Holiday. This holiday, however, is anchored in much more somber circumstances. Though there is some historic uncertainty as to the very first municipality to commemorate what was known as DECORATION DAY, there is no debate that this holiday finds its roots as a Civil War Commemoration of those who had died in battle.
So many of our nations wars today are fought in far-off places out of sight, and unfortunately, out of mind for many. The Civil War was not. It was up close and personal: in cities, hamlets, and fields. More soldiers died in the Civil War than during all the subsequent American wars combined. Because of the practice of grouping many of the fighting units by State and Region, in some circumstances towns and neighborhoods lost all of their young men in battle. It was in this backdrop that when the flowers of springtime were in bloom that citizens would “Decorate” the graves of the fallen soldiers. A somber and yet, hopeful, reminder that even out of the terrible horrors and devastation of war, hope and life can still blossom forth and rise from the ashes of destruction.
You may never agree with the decision of those in Political Leadership. I know that I rarely do, but the fact is that our young men and women are in places known and unknown by the order of those in Power. They serve because they love their country. They are maimed and wounded, and in some cases they lose their lives even before its springtime blossoms.
As the Church, we must pray for our Leaders (whether you voted for a particular president or party or not), we MUST PRAY! Pray that their decisions are Wise, Just, and Godly. We must also pray for those who fight our battles, standing watch on the proverbial Wall of Freedom, so that we can have the right to worship and the freedom to live our lives as God sees fit. Finally, we must pray for those left behind. Young Men and Women have been killed in places whose names they cannot pronounce. They leave behind wives and husbands, children and parents, and loved ones. They leave a void that cannot be filled. On this Memorial Day, let them not be forgotten. Let us say a prayer, send a note, and make a phone call. Let us say, “thank you”; AND LET US REMEMBER!
Dr. Tobey Montgomery