Remember the days of old: consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.
Deuteronomy 32:7 NIV
Each year on Memorial Day, The Old Guard places individual American flags in front of every gravestone for service members buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Military personnel in the DC area are invited to participate, and my husband often volunteered for the meaningful task while stationed at the Pentagon.
He observed that when you look at the cemetery as a whole, you could feel overwhelmed by the number of white tombstones dotting the hillsides. However, on the day he placed flags, he took time to read the name on each honored veteran’s grave. He noticed their age at the time of their death and the war in which they served. For him, this experience became more than an expression of gratitude for the many who gave their lives. He made it a personal show of gratitude to each veteran.
Remembering is an important concept in Scripture. Scripture encourages us to remember both good and bad things of life. The message is to remember so we will not forget. Memorial Day remembrance keeps us from losing touch with those who have experienced pain caused by war. The headstones at Arlington and other national cemeteries are reminders of lives lived with honor and sacrifice.
Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for our nation. History credits General John Logan with instituting a day of national remembrance for casualties of war. His words ring as true today as they did in 1868:
Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify
to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten
as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
As you read or hear the number of military personnel who died during a particular war, remember these service members are not just a statistic. Each one has a name and a hometown. Each one was a son, daughter, mother, father, or friend. Each one gave the ultimate sacrifice.
If you have lost a loved one due to war, know they are not forgotten. We remember their sacrifice.
Gracious Father, thank you for the lessons of remembrance throughout your Word. Help me to remember the sacrifices made for the cause of freedom. It is uncomfortable to think about war, and it is easy to forget the sacrifices made by individuals and families. Comfort those families who have experienced the loss of a loved one because of war. We eagerly await the day when you reign in peace and war is no more. Amen.
Adapted from “We Remember,” The One Year Yellow Ribbon Devotional by Brenda Pace and Carol McGlothlin, Tyndale House, 2008.