The United States has set aside a time for remembering the sacrifices made in service to our nation. This day impacts many families across the country and across generations.
In the Bible several instances of memorials are recorded. They were a means of drawing attention and memory toward an act of God or a historical event. These memorials varied in make up and origin.
In the Old Testament book of Joshua, the Israelites take twelve stones from the Jordan River and set up a memorial in the promised land, "So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them, "Cross again to the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. "Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?' then you shall say to them, 'Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.' So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever." (Joshua 4:4-7). These were stacked as a symbol for the Jews to remember God's work for them. He brought them into the Promised Land. This land was to be their home forever. The memorial was to remind them of this time.
Other memorials were ceremonial in nature, designated by God to remember important events or ideas. Such is the case with the Passover meal and the Lord's Supper/Communion. These all have a place in prompting memory so important events are not forgotten. God has woven these memorials into His history so believers will remember and consider deeply events, doctrines, teachings, and relationships.
In the case of modern Memorial Day, our country has set aside a day to remember those who sacrificed on the battlefield in order to preserve, defend, and support the country. It is not a time for debate about just wars or right motives. It is a time to remember those who gave their "last full measure" (President Abraham Lincoln) for our nation.
Civilians sometimes feel a need to say something to those who serve on Memorial Day. This is not necessary. Other holidays recognize actively serving people and veterans (Armed Forces Day and Veteran's Day). Memorial Day leaves many service people and veterans pensive. We remember those with whom we served and what they sacrificed. We don't know what to say, accept a silent "thank you," for those we have known and lost.
Regarding Memorial Day, here are a few thoughts about this day. For those of you who have lost family or friends, take opportunities to tell their story. Honor their memory. If it is too difficult to describe, say so. However, a sacrifice kept secret is a story untold.Stories of sacrifice honor the fallen and impact the nation.People need to know that sacrifice happens in every conflict and people are grateful for those who step into danger.
A couple of suggestions to help with personal interactions on this day. First, there is not a need to thank a living veteran or service member on Memorial Day. We are standing in the same gratefulness as anyone else. We express thanks and appreciation for those who have died and the families that bear the loss.
Second, you can ask if we know someone who has died in service. Ask about their story. Some may want to tell about the person, others may find it painful and decline. Respect either of these choices. For some of us we want to remember the person and not the loss. For others, we have a need to share the story. Some may appreciate if you pray with them. They may want prayer. They may want prayer for the family of the fallen. Memorial Day can be a time for providing ministry and care.
This is not the best post about Memorial Day you will read this year, but it is my post. I hope you set time aside to remember the day and those who have sacrificed to "the last full measure of devotion" (President Abraham Lincoln). May God bless the families, friends, and fellow service people who are carrying the memories.