What comes to mind when you think of Memorial Day?
The official kick-off to summer? A long 3 day holiday weekend filled with family get-togethers, picnics, barbeques, opening day for swimming pools, and great shopping deals? Well, yes, it is all of those things.
But do you stop and reflect on the real reason for Memorial Day?
It’s a day set aside to honor our American servicemen and women who have given their lives defending our country.
It was originally called Decoration Day and began out of compassion and empathy in 1866 as a tribute to both Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.
In 1868, May 30 was the official date set aside for Decoration Day because it was believed that flowers would be in bloom all over the country at that time and the graves of soldiers could be decorated.
Businesses closed, flags were flown at half-staff, and there were patriotic parades and ceremonies. This was all done as an important step towards the much needed healing and reconciliation in a country that had been torn apart by war.
In 1882, the first official national Memorial Day was observed.
After World War I, observances were expanded to include all who died in all of America’s wars.
John 15:13 says “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one to war. If so, my heart goes out to you and my prayers are with you. The Vietnam War took the lives of two people very close to me.
Our brave military personnel that have so gallantly given their lives deserve to be remembered and honored.
So, this Memorial Day, I hope you’ll take a moment to pray for the families of those who have died in service to our country. Keep the spirit of remembrance alive as we honor the ideals and values those brave fallen heroes stood for and died defending. Also, pray for safety for those currently serving in our military that are in harm’s way.
In 1971, Congress made the last Monday in May the official national holiday so that it could be a 3 day long weekend.
In December 2000, “The National Moment of Remembrance Act” was signed into law by the President. The purpose is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity.”
On Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time, all Americans are encouraged to pause for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who sacrificed their lives in service to our nation. It would also be a good time to make sure your kids know the purpose of Memorial Day and share the history with them.
Yes, it’s also the kick-off to summer and a great time to gather with family and friends. So, I hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend, too!
Click on this website for more information and inspiration about Memorial Day:
“Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been
The memory shall be ours”.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow