Weekly Words from The Rock
Here are some of my thoughts on Memorial Day. “Memorial Day – a time to honor our fallen war heroes, a time to honor loved ones who have passed on, a time for quiet prayers of thanks for the battles fought for our freedom. Memorial Day is a time of remembrance shared by our entire nation.” These words come from the American Legion Auxiliary’s National News and define the heart of what Memorial Day is all about – a day of remembering, a day of reminiscing.
This remembering and reminiscing has been taking place for decades. For example, before Memorial Day was even dedicated as a national holiday by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 28, 1968, women of the southern states placed flowers not only on the graves of Confederate soldiers, but of Union soldiers as well. This was due to the fact that most battles between the North and South during the Civil War took place on southern soil. Learning from their example, this action quickly spread across the nation. Why do we continue the very same practice today? For what purpose? It all centers on sacrifice.
If we reflect upon the history of this country, there have been many cherished moments, golden years a person might say. On the same note, there have also been dark periods, periods we would just as soon forget. This is not unique; it is true of countries the world over. And yet, through it all, golden years, dark periods, men and women have sacrificed. Again, why? So you and I can enjoy the gift of freedom, a liberty we can easily take for granted day after day.
On the obvious front, the sacrifice we speak about centers on life. We commemorate those comrades, both men and women, who have died in defense of this country. Wars have raged on native soil (here we think of the War of Independence and Civil War) and across the vast expanses of ocean. Within the various battles, millions upon millions have died. What a tragedy if they be forgotten, or their accomplishments in the name of freedom were to go unnoticed.
We also pause on Memorial Day and remember the many people who sacrificed behind the scenes – men and women who easily go unnoticed. During war, not everyone bears arms. People remain behind to help in building up military might, to help in caring for the wounded and each other (especially when told of the loss of a loved one), and to help in producing food. Such people many times endure rations and stamps, shortages and countless hardships. And of course, they pray. They pray for victory, and they pray for loved ones, hoping deaths door never knocks. We can’t imagine or comprehend the sense of loss at the announcement of the death of a family member, relative or friend.
I know that I have only broken the surface when it comes to sacrifice and what people endure at the time of war. No amount or number of words can do justice when such a subject is touched. However, one fact remains – although it be only one day out of the year, we do remember! Our flags, signs and banners are thanks to the many people who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for this great country of ours. Without such people, freedom and liberty would be a mirage.
As people of faith, we ask God to protect and bless this country we call the United States of America, and with His guidance, may we, as a country, be courageous in leading the world into the twenty-first century and beyond.
Have a happy and blessed Memorial Day!
God’s blessings! Father Schuster