Memorial Day is a happy day for those who get a Monday off half way through the year. There are great sales going on and a little extra time to shop them. The weather is usually a little cooler, so it is a nice day for a picnic or a parade. I always love Memorial Day as a happy gift in the middle of living. I know it is coming; but every year when it comes up, I feel surprised and know that I need it to catch up on things that have been piling up for a while. It has become a bonus day that I never know how much I need until it arrives on the calendar.
Since I haven’t lost a close family or friend soldier, it is easy for me to totally forget the reason we Americans celebrate this holiday. For many it is another sober reminder of the husbands, wives, sons, daughters, moms and fathers, who are no longer part of their daily living because of their call to serve our country in the military. The last Monday in May was dedicated as a federal holiday after the Civil War for both Confederate and Union soldiers. We need days like Memorial Day to let our souls process the sadness of loss. So if you are like me and don’t have a solider to mourn today, remember those who have lost someone very significant to them and the soldiers who have returned home wounded and in need of mending from their physical changes and trauma resulting from combat experience. Take some time today to pray for all who are grieving. They don’t need just a day to fix what is so torn apart in their souls. Days like this come and go, but their loss and hurt remain. Pray that today, we as a country will untie around them and that they will reach out to God and grief support communities to find the peace that God wants them to have in spite of their great losses.
My Great, great, great grandmother lost her son in the Civil War. He didn’t die in battle, rather while keeping guard with phenomena on a rainy night. She regretted that she had not prayed every day for her son while he served and asked all the women in our family to pass down the message to pray every day for their son’s (she never imagined daughters would be soldiers) who became soldiers. I’m sure she was going through the stages of grief—self-blame—but I’m grateful for her message as my mom passed it down to me. It was men and women like my great, great, great grandmother who came together in unity and established this federal holiday. The families from the North and the South may have remained divided on many issues, but they were united on the sadness and loss as well as pride and honor they felt for their beloved fathers, sons, husbands and friends.
I’m going to enjoy my much needed day off this year. Personally, it will mean more to me as a gift from God to catch up on some things left undone. But I don’t want to leave it at that. I want to pray for my country. I want to thank God for the freedom to live here and worship Him without threat. I want to pray for those who are living with the losses of war, both the survivors and the families of soldiers that were killed in war. May they feel our prayers surrounding them on Memorial Day! May they open their hearts to the healing work of the Holy Spirit. May they feel the appreciation of a country and citizens who are deeply grateful for their sacrifice. In spite of death’s toll, all believers have this hope:
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)