Good morning. It is Friday, May 28, 2021.
It is Memorial Day Weekend and there will be a lot of festivities this weekend. Lots of backyard BBQ's, boat races, carnivals, parades, camping trips to the coast and to the mountains; a long weekend with no work or school on Monday.
Do we even remember why we celebrate Memorial Day? Or is it just a fun, 3- or 4-day weekend for us?
According to kidsplayandcreate.com, in 1996 a poll was taken and showed that less than 30% of Americans knew why we celebrate Memorial Day. It was at that time the idea of having a national moment of silence began. At 3PM on Memorial Day all Americans were encouraged to take a moment of silence to reflect and think of all the people who sacrificed their lives so we can be a free nation.
The sole purpose of Memorial Day is to honor and remember all the men and women who died fighting for our country and is every year on the last Monday in May. The original name was Decoration Day.
Decoration Day was started on May 5, 1868 by General John A Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic head of the Organization of Union Veterans to honor union soldiers who died in the Civil War. It was called Decoration Day because family members of soldiers who died decorated their graves with flowers.
Decoration Day originally only honored the soldiers who died in the Civil War. After World War I it was changed to all soldiers who lost their lives in war.
The Red Poppy has been a symbol of lives lost to war since World War I (1914–1918), and it plays a big part in the history of Memorial Day.
The first service to honor fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery was held on May 30, 1868. President Ulysses S. Grant was present at the ceremony and General James Garfield gave a speech.
On May 11, 1950 Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day and in 1966 congress, along with President Lyndon Johnson, declared Waterloo New York the birthplace of Memorial Day. President Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday in 1971.
According to the History Channel, former slaves, who were freed at the end of the Civil War, were among the first to memorialize the fallen soldiers. Others contribute the start to a group of women who laid flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers in the same year.
The Civil War was America's bloodiest conflict. The unprecedented violence of battles such as Shiloh, Antietam, Stones River, and Gettysburg shocked citizens and international observers alike. Roughly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives in the line of duty. - https://www.battlefields.org
The numbers are astounding! Many men joined voluntarily, but many were drafted. Not all had a choice to lay down their lives for our freedom. But Jesus did. Jesus had a choice.
As I child I had this picture of God sacrificing His son; that is to say, Jesus had no say in it. I got this idea from many sources including the old song How Great Thou Art, which is one of my favorites. "And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in."
Of course, we cannot forget John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son..."
Yes, God gave, or allowed, but Jesus also had a choice, and He chose us!
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:5-11
"By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers." - 1 John 3:16 ESV
We celebrate Memorial Day this weekend, but daily we should celebrate Jesus Christ, who laid down His life for us. The Son of God who chose to leave heaven and risk everything to live and die, AND LIVE AGAIN, for us.
I pray you allow that to be a daily reminder, 365 days a year, for the rest of your life.