Its Memorial Day weekend and I know my social media will be flooded with pictures of people having a BBQ, sitting poolside, shopping sales, and using the caption, “Happy Memorial Day.” Although, it is ok to be enjoying the ones we love this weekend, its important we do not forget what this day represents and there is nothing “happy” about it. I have asked my sister-in-law, Kristy, to write a guest post on what this day really represents and what it means to her family. Kristy is married to my brother Edward, who is a Major in the United States Army and has served seven tours overseas. Together, they have sacrificed much for the sake of this wonderful country, and she has even taught me better ways to remember those who have lost their lives giving me my freedom. Here’s Kristy…
“The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden.” — Ronald Reagan, Memorial Day speech, 1982
I love this quote by Ronald Reagan, as well as the principle from Luke 12:48 “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
By being an American citizen and living in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we have been given so much. Therefore, I feel that the privilege of freedom demands much from us in return.
Similarly, an unknown author wrote a quote that helps portray two very important sacrifices made for us all. One is for our soul and salvation and the other is for our freedom. “Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom.”
I have deep and personal testimony to both of these sacrifices. The most important decision I have ever made was accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. Believing John 3:16 has changed me, as it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I have been a Christian for a very long time but it wasn’t until I had my first child that I understood the depth of God’s sacrifice of his only Son. Becoming a parent helped me see in full the pain and sacrifice He made for us.
As for the soldier’s sacrifice, I have always respected, prayed for and honored the men and women that have given their lives for our freedom. However, after losing friends in war, Memorial Day is much more personal.
I am an Army brat and have three generations in my family that have served in the Army, so I have always had a deep respect for patriotism and sacrifice. But having married a soldier while our nation was at war, Memorial Day has become a deeper, more personal day demanding reverence and gratefulness.
I have been to countless memorials and funerals of brave servicemen. The impact on me was heart-wrenching and has changed me. These families lost their loved one and their future. Every day will be Memorial Day for them.
Our country seems to have lost sight of the meaning of Memorial Day and tends to be more focused on Memorial Day sales, BBQs or the start of summer.
I am so sensitive to Memorial Day and what it represents because my husband and I have so many Gold Star families (the family of a fallen service member) in our lives. We’ve known many men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We grieve for those family members that we know by name and who remember and grieve the loss of their soldier every single day.
People often confuse Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. So, I’d like to distinguish the difference between both days. Veteran’s Day, November 11, celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. That is a day to honor and thank our service men and woman for their selfless service to our country. There is also Armed Forces Day, which was established as a holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic support of our country.
Memorial Day, however, is a day to remember and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Memorial Day became a national holiday in 1971, observed the last Monday of May, and is a day in which we honor, reflect, and remember service men and women who have died serving our country in war.
Memorial Day will flood many memories in my mind such as: my precious friend meeting her husband’s casket at Travis Air Force Base with their four-month-old baby that he never got to meet in her arms; the pain and sorrow my husband witnessed while notifying a couple that their son was killed in Iraq; five-year-old Everett telling stories of his superhero dad that was killed in Afghanistan when he was just eight-months-old; hugging parents at a memorial for their son while my husband was still deployed; and a beautiful woman who never got to walk down the aisle to the man of her dreams as her fiancé was killed three weeks before the unit returned.
The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in 2000 which asks all Americans at 3 p.m. local time, “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to taps.”
We must teach and instruct the next generation to respect and honor Memorial Day. We have a long history of patriotism and sacrifice. Our country has fought many battles to remain a free nation and we must remember those sacrifices.
Just as Deuteronomy 4:9 talks about watching yourselves closely so that you don’t forget what you have learned, and teaching your children and their children after them, we must teach the next generation and the next. Rather than take our freedom for granted and become complacent, we must do something with the freedom and blessings we receive.
Honoring those that give us that freedom is necessary.
So, I urge you to educate yourself and others on this solemn day. There are websites below featuring amazing organizations to get involved with or suggestions of ways to remember on Memorial Day. A few suggestions I have are to visit a memorial, run in honor of a fallen soldier, take a moment of silence at 3 p.m., and pray for or reach out to our Gold Star families.
Sites for Memorial Day Information or Crafts for Kids:
Organizations that support Gold Star Families: