Memorial Day is a call to unite all Americans in honoring the fallen, regardless of political affiliation or personal animosity. This Memorial Day is Monday, May 29, 2017. What is memorialized on this hallowed day is the ultimate of human sacrifice given so that those who live in the best nation on earth can continue to do so in relative peace and freedom.
Jesus once said,
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. [John 15:13]
It is that greatest of loves which move the defenders of this nation to lay down their lives for the liberty Americans possess.
What Memorial Day Is About
Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in the aftermath of the Civil War. More American soldiers had died in the Civil War, to this day more than any other. National cemeteries had to be established for the first time.
No one knows exactly when or where the first Decoration Days were held. They began within a year after the end of the war. The custom began as a day when shops and offices would close in the Spring so that townspeople could visit the cemeteries and place flowers and other decorations on the graves of those who had perished in the conflict.
In 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo—which first celebrated the day on May 5, 1866—was chosen because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
Two years later to the day, May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. He proclaimed:
The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.
The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.
A Holiday Made the American Way
Memorial Day became a holiday the American way, meaning, it came from the people themselves.
The fact is, no one from the outside of these particular communities decided to begin, what is now known as, Memorial Day. No federal holiday needed to be declared. No state proclamation was decreed. These were people who suffered loss together and grieved; this came from the heart.
It was the recognition, by the government, of what the people did that moved them to recognize Memorial Day. However, Memorial Day did not become a declared a National Holiday until 1971. Thus, a voluntary call to prayer nationwide by a veteran General was recognized and, basically, upheld nationwide for 103 years before the federal government was virtually forced to give it recognition.
This call for the hearts of the people to come together was not a glorification of war; far different. It is a recognition of the horror of war and the terrible cost it inflicts upon all. Its intent was to heal and unify a nation ripped asunder by the scourge of war. It came from a military leader, experienced in war.
A Call for an End to War
War is hell, war is terror, war is disgusting, war breeds unspeakable acts, and no one knows this all more than the one in the midst of war. To paraphrase Star Trek’s James T. Kirk, “It’s what makes [war] a thing to be avoided!”
It makes sense for a true warrior to pray for the fallen, and for peace as well. As General Douglas MacArthur said,
The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.
The call of Memorial Day is a call to remember and honor the warrior who gave all. It is also to implore heaven for peace and ask for the strength and wisdom to prepare for war if necessary.
President Donald Trump issued a proclamation, as have past presidents. A section of the statement is a call for peace, as well as a recognition of the cost of war.
It is a moment of collective reflection on the noble sacrifices of those who gave the last measure of devotion in service of our ideals and in the defense of our nation. On this ceremonious day, we remember the fallen, we pray for a lasting peace among nations, and we honor these guardians of our inalienable rights…
A Call to Value The Sacrifices
Memorial day is a call to unite all Americans to honor and value the sacrifices of those honored dead defenders of independence. Freedom for the ones back home, far away from their loved ones. Even freedom for those who even despise them.
How should these heroes be honored? Some would disparage the idea that Memorial Day is a day when many, if not most, Americans will enjoy themselves on vacation and with friends and family as this is also known as the unofficial beginning of summer. However, as one veteran notes:
I believe that the fallen soldier, if we could ask him, would tell us, ‘Go ahead and enjoy this respite. After all, the freedom to do so is one of those I and so many others gave our lives to protect. I would only ask that you take some time to remember me and those others and give thanks for our efforts. You can honor us when you remember the price paid for your liberty, and then go and live and enjoy that liberty.’
A Call For Unity and Gratitude
Memorial Day is a call for unity amidst the rankling division of modern America. To be united in gratitude for freedom, even, and especially, to disagree agreeably!
There is a unity which needs more recognition than it gets. It is the unity of understanding how precious liberty truly is, and how fragile. Therefore, it must be carefully guarded and defended in peace, as well as war. But, when conflict comes, a united America must support the defenders of liberty, or it is lost. And a united America must always remember with great gratitude the lives laid down for freedom.
Opinion News By D.T. Osborn
Edited by Cathy Milne
CDN: HONOR OUR FALLEN HEROES; An Oath Keeper’s Plea
Crossway Bibles: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
Great-Quotes: Douglas MacArthur Quotes
HISTORY: MEMORIAL DAY
WESTERN JOURNALISM: Trump Calls On America To Pray As Nation Observes Memorial Day
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Michael Levine-Clark’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License