The questions is, “Well did you?”
“Do what?” someone asks with an inquisitive look on his face.
The answer: “Did you stop this past Monday to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so you could be free?”
To some, that’s an offensive, “none of your business” question; to others, it’s guilt-invoking. But, hopefully, for the majority of us, it’s a reminder of our roots and the importance of always remembering (as someone once said) that “freedom is not free, but bought at an incredible price.”
That’s why I do hope you at least spent a few minutes remembering those men and women who died in combat defending our freedoms. If not, why not stop and do it right now?
Even though Memorial Day originated in 1868 after General John A. Logan, leader of an organization of Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide remembrance of Union soldiers who’d died, this changed after World War I. Citizens across the United States realized the need for recognizing all those who fell in battle.
Originally known as “Decoration Day,” the annual remembrance was officially changed to “Memorial Day” by federal law in 1967. Likewise, on June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which moved four holidays to a Monday to make a three-day weekend. Consequently, Memorial Day moved from its original date of May 30 to the last Monday of May.
Prior to that day, various veterans’ organizations and citizens will place small flags on veterans’ graves in local cemeteries. Some will also place flowers. And, in some cities—both large and small—there’ll also be parades in memory of our more than one million fallen military members. Flags will also be flown at half-staff that day.
How thankful I am that our nation still remembers our war heroes. And, here’s hoping we’ll always do that lest we forget and take for granted those sacrifices made. In fact, I would hope parents everywhere would take their children to a national cemetery at least once so they can see those many rows of gleaming monuments. I also hope they’ll explain to these young minds what these tombstones mean. That way we can ensure that future generations will never take for granted the freedoms we enjoy.
I still remember the first time I visited Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C. and saw all those gleaming white grave markers. Likewise, when I visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watched the soldier guarding the tomb, I realized I was on hallowed ground.
The same was true when I visited the Holocaust Museum in our capital city and saw the hundreds of pairs of shoes of those who died in Hitler’s ovens. Tears also filled my eyes when I stood at Patton’s grave at the U.S. national cemetery in Luxembourg and saw the thousands of tombstones of those who died in that part of Europe during WWII.
Even now I still remember that day when I was hiking through the Ozarks and came across an old, Civil War cemetery. The grass was neatly cut and the wrought-iron fence still maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. And, as I walked from grave to grave—looking at those weathered tombstones—I realized the hellish atrocities of war and the importance of remembering.
Here’s hoping you’ll join me in remembering this week. Then, I hope you’ll do what you can to make sure our children and their children will never forget those who fought and died for them.
Hopefully, this will help our nation to remember our righteous roots and the great price of freedom. And, the next time you see an elderly veteran … with the name of his/her branch of service written on his/her cap … stop and shake his/her hand. Tell him/her how thankful you are for their service. You might even offer to buy them a meal.
Why not pause even now and say a prayer of thanksgiving to Almighty God for our military service men and women? Then, vow to always remember so our future generations can enjoy the same freedoms we do. God bless you.
NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.