“Happy Memorial Day,” that always sounds like such an odd thing to say, as if pausing to remember those who have lost their lives serving our country is somehow a happy thing. Families often take this 3 day weekend to BBQ and camp out, lending a festive air to what has become a ritual first day of summer celebration.
Memorial Day in America is about life and life abundant, about family and play and sunshine, all the things that make life good, and perhaps that is exactly as it should be. There are somber moments sometimes, pause and reflection, memories of lost loved ones, graves tended to carefully, but for the most part people are going about the business of living, with some exuberance.
Memorial Day in America is a day of paradoxes, of living life and remembering what is truly important, while we also remember those who are no longer with us, those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
John 15:13 reminds us, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” So many have taken great risk, have given their all to teach us the truth of those words in a very personal way, to help us to understand that there really are some things worth dying for, and in the process we learn that there are things worth living for, too. Why they fight is also why we live.
There are some things so important that people would sacrifice everything for them, even their own lives, and we honor that sacrifice by showing the world there are some things worth living for, too.
As I have been taught to do since the beginning of time, Memorial Day is not Veteran’s Day, it is not the day we thank people for their service to our country, it is the day we remember our dead and the terrible price of war. Memorial Day is rooted in Decoration Day, in the Civil War and in our nation’s history.
“We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.” -Gen Logan, 1858
Let us never forget the cost of a free and undivided republic.