Why Memorial Day is sacred
Memorial Day is a day about remembering.
In remembering you bring back to life but for a temporary moment, what has long passed in reality. You bring back the emotion, the sense, the pain and the smiles of what once was or best yet, of who was that shared a time with you.
Remembering transposes all time and space.
I remember being there when one of our teams pulled a Marine out of the waters of the Euphrates. He had witnessed a helicopter ditch into the canal and without hesitation he pulled off his gear and jumped into the fast moving waters to rescue his brothers but instead he was claimed along with them. I remember the guttural groans of his Marine brothers who awaited the news and I had to inform them he was gone.
Remembering opens wounds that remind us of the reality of the time.
I remember being by the bedside of a young Marine who died on the table of a Trauma Surgical Unit and I placed my hand on his head, my fingers settled into his hair and I wished to touch him in a way a father would say goodbye to a son, I prayed and when I withdrew my hand it was covered in his blood. A fact that only reminded me of the suffering that was yet to be expressed by his parents who did not know.
Remembering helps us to connect with others.
I remember praying over seven Marines who were in their body bags and when I touched the first as I prayed, I felt the bridge of his nose and immediately was overwhelmed by grief. I grieved with his Marine brothers who were there weeping, I grieved for his parents who did not yet know, and I grieved for a life lost that had not yet been lived. These young men would never know the joy of being married, the joy of being at your child’s birth, the joy of seeing your children grow, the emotion of seeing them grow up into adults and having a family of their own, the precious moments of being with grandchildren. They would never know.
Remembering is grieving what could have been.
Memorial Day is never about the living and always about those who have given all in their service. Many died in far off lands, dirty, in shock and in pain. Some died suddenly with no clue what hit them. Others were conscious enough to know they were leaving and grieved a lifetime lost. Every one of them volunteered. Every one of them knew this was a real possibility. Every one of them understood the loss and yet they went. They went because of the love they had for those they left behind. Some of them acted heroically and selflessly in combat to save the lives of their friends right there in a particular circumstance.
Remembering honors the selfless and the cost they paid.
Memorial Day is understanding that even when we are not perfect, we are capable of doing the divine because it stems out of love. Every veteran, regardless of how many medals they may display understands that the truest heroes are the ones who never came home.
Memorial Day is sacred.
Memorial Day is sacred because we understand that the giving of ones life for another is an act of God’s love emulated through imperfect humanity. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
For Christians, Memorial Day points to another Memorial.
The sacrifice of all men is worthy of being honored when it is done in the service of love for their fellow friends. These are worthy of remembrance. Yet while special and worthy of honor such a sacrifice is limited in time.
In Christ, we remember the sacrifice that was also rooted in love for all of humanity, but it is a sacrifice that not only connects us with the one who died for us, it connects us to righteousness, to the character of God, to one another in the church and a future with Him. His sacrificed does not only move us to reflect but it transforms us from the core and grants us a new life unlike we can create on our own.
Every sacrifice made by man, though worthy of honor and remembrance, is a reminder of the sacrifice made by Christ that shall have ramifications for eternity. Whenever we honor the dead, let us remember to minister to the living, so that in Christ we can change the world from its heart of rage to a heart of love.
This is why it’s important to remember. To remember is to be connected to the one who gave their all. To remember a fallen heroe, we remember their deed, we remember them, and their time. To remember Christ, is to walk with Him today.