Memorial Day Thoughts

We recently celebrated Memorial Day, which is a day of remembrance – of those who gave their lives in their nation’s service. Originally called Devotion Day, then Decoration Day, Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. The first observance was on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving in the military during wartime. She was the first to wear a homemade poppy, sold some to her friends and co-workers, and gave the money to benefit servicemen in need. Shortly before Memorial Day in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to sell poppies throughout the nation.

Traditional observance of Memorial Day has sadly diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored and neglected. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

The younger generation view Memorial Day as a marker in their calendar - just another holiday to take off and enjoy. I’m a marine. I fought in Vietnam. When I first visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C., I touched that wall of 50,000 service men and women and could not help but weep. I survived by the grace of God, but some of my men did not. To tread upon the day in making it just another holiday pains me.

As a combat veteran, it grieves me to see the waning of this holiday, for now we celebrate the day has a “happy picnic day”; not a remembrance. In Scripture we are told about remembrance – to remember the great acts of God. The Israelites would leave huge stones to commemorate a deliverance from God or one of His miracles that demonstrated His power and protection. Christ, at the Last Supper, told us to eat the bread and drink the wine in remembrance of Him, proclaiming His death until he comes again.

Hopefully, we Americans will never forget the lives of those that died in service to our country. I pray that Memorial Day brings to mind the great act of Christ who gave His life that we may live eternally! God bless!