Well, if you have a really good memory (or, look in the archived blog posts from time to time) you may realize as you read that much of this post is a repeat from last year, right around this time. The reason? We just celebrated Memorial Day. And, as I was pondering what to write about this week, I realized I wanted to write about Memorial Day. But, then I remembered I wrote about Memorial Day last year. But, THEN, I remembered that we CELEBRATED Memorial Day last year. I know what you’re thinking – “of course we celebrated Memorial Day last year; we celebrate it EVERY year.” So, then I thought, “if it’s important enough to celebrate every year, it’s important enough to write about every year.” And that’s when I decided to do a “repeat” of last year’s Memorial Day post. Sort of like when I was a pastor – most weeks the sermons were different, one from another, based on a variety of different scripture passages. But, on a few days of the year – Christmas Eve, Easter, etc. – the sermons always sounded a bit familiar from year to year, because the point of the celebrations remained the same from year to year. And, with Memorial Day, we recall the same things each year. And so I give you – Memorial Day, the post.
While it seems that Independence Day, July 4, is the day that gets the most attention as far as pausing to give thanks for the freedoms we possess by virtue of living in America, to me Memorial Day is in some ways an even bigger deal because it honors the people who died to make sure we continue to enjoy those freedoms that were gained the day we finally laid hold of our independence some 239 years ago.
If you were to research the origins of Memorial Day, you would learn that originally it was known by a different name – Decoration Day – and was established as a way of honoring and remembering Union and Confederate soldiers who had perished in the Civil War. The precise date of what is considered to be the very first Memorial Day observance is disputed. However, in 1966, President Johnson signed a presidential proclamation which named Waterloo, New York as the birthplace of Memorial Day, and at the same time, the 89th Congress adopted an official resolution which recognized that the tradition of Memorial Day did, in fact, begin one hundred years prior to Johnson’s proclamation.
Now, regardless of all the trivia surrounding when the first day was observed and where that observation took place and who laid the first wreath or erected the first flag, the fact still remains that while it is a day we remember all of our loved ones who have died, it is first and foremost a national holiday meant to remember soldiers who have given their lives in service to their country. This is why the observance of Memorial Day makes me a bit more reflective than even Independence Day. I could actually compare it to how I look at the holidays of Christmas and Good Friday/Easter. I mean, I realize that without the birth of Jesus there would be no death of Jesus and no resurrection of Jesus. But, the difference between the two, from my perspective of faith, is that what happens on Good Friday and Easter hits closer to home and closer to the heart. And, isn’t it interesting that generally speaking Christmas gets the “higher billing”. The same could be said of the difference between Independence Day and Memorial Day. I realize that without the birth of a nation there would be no freedoms to die for. But, the fact that men and women do die to protect those freedoms is profound to me in a much different way.
Yes, it will be a whole year before the opportunity rolls around again And, I hope that on July 4 you will have a great time celebrating the independence of our nation. And then, when Memorial Day rolls around next year, maybe it will strike an even deeper cord within you.
Have a great day!