Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May. This important holiday is not just another “day off” but a day to remember those who have lost their lives in the military service of our country.
Remembering is a painful but necessary discipline. Remembering the historical facts should help us to remain consciously aware of the harsh realities of national and international conflict. Remembering the stories of battle may enable us to learn from both the successes and the failures of our national heritage. Remembering the fallen keeps alive the individual and corporate legacies of valor and courage that inspire and challenge us to be responsible citizens of the free world.
To fail to remember is to develop a toxic amnesia that robs succeeding generations of acquaintance with their national ancestry. To fail to remember creates a contagious apathy that leads to a neglect of both freedom and citizenship. To fail to remember may result in a false sense of protection and exemption from future warfare. A loss of memory eventually leads to a loss of national identity. Remembering is a painful but necessary discipline.
What are some things we can do to help remember and commemorate the contributions of those who lost their lives in battle?
· Read biographies of world leaders, military generals, POW’s, and holocaust survivors.
· Read historical accounts of crucial battles.
· View a documentary or movie that realistically portrays the stories of war.
· Visit historic sites such as battlefields, monuments, and military cemeteries.
· Visit with a veteran and listen firsthand to stories from the heat of battle.
· Give thanks for those who have fought for freedom and justice.
· Pray for those who are serving in the military service today.
· Pray and work for freedom, justice, and world peace.
· Practice and preserve religious liberty.
· Exercise your rights and fulfill your responsibilities as a citizen.
In The Roadmender Margaret Fairless Barber proposed that “To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.”
Today is Memorial Day…A day to look backward with gratitude and to look forward with determination.
(Barry Howard serves as senior minister at First Baptist Church of Pensacola, Florida.)