A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it remembers. -John F. Kennedy
There was another leader thousands of years ago who urged us to remember. King Solomon also challenged us to reflect and to remember:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…
Today is a time to remember…but what does it mean to remember?
A verb, showing action or intention… Remember: have in or be able to bring to one’s mind an awareness of someone or something that one has seen, known, or experienced in the past. Today we remember.
Memorial Day… For many, it’s a day off work, a picnic in the park, time together with friends, the beginning of summer, a day at the pool, and some good food on the grill. All those are great, but is there more?
Decoration Day was first celebrated (unofficially) in the few years following the Civil War, the deadliest, closest-to-home war ever affecting the United States…dividing communities and tearing families apart. It became a day to look back and reflect, to pray, and to adorn graves with flowers to remember the sacrifice. Memorial Day wasn’t officially recognized as a national holiday until 1971…more than a hundred years after people began the tradition of remembering all those who had lost their lives serving their country.
..a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
I remember…I grew up in an Army town. Young men with crew cuts, tattoos, fast cars, and fast lives were ever-changing parts of the backdrop. Seemingly ordinary lives and faces, they were such an familiar part of daily living that I failed to see the glory and sacrifice played out in everyday encounters. I was totally unaware of the tremendous cost, the sacrifice, and the risks involved in being a soldier. I failed to understand the scope of service and depth of their commitment. Practically kids, they were torn from their families and relocated all over the world. Driven and treated harshly, often viewed with suspicion and contempt, they were armed, equipped, and sent to the front lines to wage wars that would never end and could never really be won. Read that again:
They were armed, equipped, and sent to the front lines to wage wars that would never end and could never really be won.
..a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
Strong and courageous, creative and daring, bold and fearless, fragile and broken…this human life and condition present varied experiences, challenges, opportunities, and chances for pain and wounding; but “a time to heal” and “a time to build” offer the promise of hope. We remember the past to honor sacrifice and to build a better future.
..a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
I remember… Washington D.C. is one of my family’s favorite cities to visit. A symbol of freedom, democracy, and remembrance, the city is built upon two hundred year old stories, legendary history, and extensive monuments that surround it like soldiers guarding their charge. They stir us to remember.
..a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
The streets, the shadows, the monuments shout echoes of patriotism, pride, loss, regret, and what should have or could-have-been.
So many conflicting feelings and words: united, one nation, under God, liberty, justice for all…but also: division, anger, hatred, death, loss of hope. We are fearfully and wonderfully made but we are also needy and broken, We live, we love, we laugh, we lose, we hurt, we wound others. We remember…
..a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
My family loves history. We travel to former presidents’ homes, Civil War forts, museums, and scattered landmarks. We gaze on old relics and tattered pieces of history with awe and admiration and reverence. We remember…
..a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the tattered flags, the eternal flame, the cold grave stones… They are silent. They are somber. They remember.
..a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace
Love and hate. War and peace. I hate war. I love peace. War within, war without. War is costly. Peace is costly. Today we remember the toll that both have taken on our country, our communities, our young people, our family, our friends. Will we really remember?
Will we remember to train up our kids, to tell them of God’s faithfulness and the sacrifice of generations who have gone before? Will we talk about it with our children and impress it on them when we are walking down the road, when we are at home, when we lie down and when we rise? Will we write it on our doorframes or on our very hearts? For what beliefs, lifestyles, and freedoms have our sons, daughter, mothers, and fathers laid down their lives? Mindfulness demands thankfulness. Count your blessings, count your freedoms, know that freedom is bought with a price, and be thankful. Remember..
Memorial Day… Maybe it really is all these things: Summer, new life, bountiful blessings, a safe place, time to play, laughter of children, a splash in the pool, a trip to the beach, cherished time with friends and family. But it was bought with a price. So remember its value. Enjoy blessings and safety, being aware that the price has already been paid. Remember and be thankful.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
Will you remember?
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