As you are probably aware, this coming Monday, May 28, is the day we commemorate as Memorial Day. For many, the legal holiday means little more than a day off work and a long weekend. For others, it’s the unofficial beginning of summer, a trip to the beach or lake, or a barbecue in the backyard (if you can get it in around the rain, of course). Still others use the day off to catch up on some yardwork, or left over spring cleaning. Or maybe, a little shopping.
None of those holiday “observances” are a problem, in and of themselves, but they do miss out on the purpose of Memorial Day: to remember, and more specifically, to remember those who gave their lives in defense of our freedom as a nation.
For most in our generation, even after all the lives lost fighting terror around the world since 9/11, remembering the steep price paid for our nation’s freedom doesn’t come easy. In our comforts in relative “peace time,” we are disattached from “war” and have lost the heartfelt appreciation for those who went before us that past generations held dear.
One of my favorite movies, Stephen Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan,” was largely motivated by that idea, that our generation had forgotten what our parents and grandparents went through in places like Normandy and Iwo Jima (not to mention Inchon or Khe San). Their courage and commitment to duty and honor–and their self-sacrifice–must never be forgotten. Likewise, those who have lost their lives in places like Iraq and Afghanistan are to be remembered just the same.
The Bible speaks often on the subjects of sacrifice, and remembering. Jesus reminded us that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). And then He showed us what that great love looks like when He died for us. Likewise, some have followed His example and have given their lives on our behalf.
On a number of occasions Scripture records accounts where “memorials” were erected after a victorious battle or miraculous deliverance to help God’s people remember what He had done, so that future generations would never forget. We would all do well to remember to remember ourselves.
So may I suggest that you set aside some time in the midst of your busy holiday weekend to stop and thank God for those who have paid the ultimate price of their lives to win and preserve the freedom we have as a nation. May God help us to never forget to remember, lest we take for granted the blessings He has given us.