I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. [1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NLT)]
Contrary to popular belief, our long holiday weekend is not to celebrate school ending and the beginning of summer fun. More than a day for picnics, parades, and flags, Memorial Day is a day to honor those men and women who died while serving our country. While Thanksgiving is the day we stop to give thanks for the many things we have, Memorial Day is the day we should stop to give thanks for the many people who fought so we could have those things.
Back in 2000, President Clinton signed a resolution that designated a “National Moment of Remembrance” at 3:00 PM (local time) on Memorial Day. In honor of our fallen warriors, people are asked to observe a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a minute of silence. This is to be a moment of national unity in which all Americans honor those who have died in service to our country. The National Grocers Association asks shoppers and workers to stop in stores throughout the nation, Amtrak trains will blast their whistles, and major league baseball games will pause. Perhaps I was too busy relaxing in the sun, planting pots of flowers or preparing the potato salad but, until I started today’s devotion, I was totally unaware of this official minute of remembrance.
If I lived in Cuba, I wouldn’t be allowed to post Christian messages to this site. If you were one of the 4% in North Korea with internet access, you couldn’t read this post; it would have been blocked because of its content. If caught with a Bible in there, you’d end up in prison. Since it’s illegal to practice Christianity in Saudi Arabia, none of us could attend church there and we’d be persecuted for our faith if we lived in Iraq, Iran, or Afghanistan. If you’re tired of all the politicking and election news, just move to Burma, Belarus, or Sudan where no political opposition (and no choice) is allowed.
While much is wrong with our nation, much is right. We can worship freely or freely choose not to worship. We can read the books we want to read and say pretty much whatever it is we want to say. We can peaceably assemble and loudly complain to the government and everyone else. We can write letters to the editor, run for public office, and publish a blog. We have mail that is uncensored and access to the Internet and everything on it. We have the freedom to choose the television shows and movies we watch, the music and political commentators we hear, and the newspapers and magazines we read. If arrested, we have the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury and to confront any witnesses against us. We enjoy a level of freedom that is unknown in much of the world. That freedom, however, came at a terrible cost.
In December, we’re reminded to keep the “Christ” in Christmas. How about putting the “memorial” back in Memorial Day? I know what I’ll be doing Monday at 3:00; I also know that one minute is nowhere nearly enough time to honor those who died for us. Worse, more names will be added to that list in the future.
Heavenly Father, thank you for those men and women who made it possible for us to enjoy the rights we so often take for granted. May we bear in mind that Memorial Day is not a tribute to summer but rather a tribute to those brave souls who died in the pursuit of freedom and peace. Thank you for their courage, honor, service and sacrifice.
That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. [Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863]