I hope you are having a blessed Memorial Day. Bro. DiZazzo is grilling for our families today and that will probably be the extent of our Memorial Day celebrations since we are in revival this week. But Memorial Day is so much more than hamburgers, hot dogs and a trip to the lake. Memorial Day is the official day to remember the men and women who gave their lives for us in service to their country. It is a day to decorate the graves of brave solders that made the ultimate sacrifice but has evolved for most folks into a day to decorate the graves of our loved ones as well and to remember those that have meant so much to us when they were alive.
It is a sobering thing to remember those that have protected our nation, defended our freedom and set our course. I am sure that in Miami Cemetery, less than a mile from where I was raised, that they are probably having a ceremony marking Memorial Day as I type this post. I played in the band for that ceremony two years while in Jr. High School and I still remember the solemness that was impressed upon me during those events. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the veterans of WWII were in their 50s and early 60s. They were the leaders of our community and were still strong and vibrant. I watched many of them as they wiped tears from their eyes as the flag was raised, the guns were fired and the prayers were offered. Strong men holding back tears, putting their hands over their hearts and bowing their heads grabbed my attention.
There were Vietnam veterans there as well. Although they seemed old to me then, most of them were younger than my dad was at the time and 10-15 years younger than I am now. They didn't tear up as easy as the veterans from WWII and Korea but you could easily see they were affected just the same.
These men, along with my dad who is a Navy veteran, made Memorial Day real to me. We were in that cemetery honoring men that were just real as the men standing around me. They were men with families and futures, hopes and dreams. Those men sacrificed all of that so that I could live in a free America. Their families were left, their futures were cut off and their hopes and dreams vanished on a battle field in France, Iwo Jima, Vietnam, Korea or some other far flung place. How could I not honor that?
The seriousness of that sacrifice has never left me and I pray that it never does. I thank God for those men and for those men who are still giving their lives today in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places. Maybe you can't go to a cemetery today and decorate a grave. Maybe you are working today or you will spend it with friends and family with a hamburger and cold bottle of water as we will. But take a moment to thank God for men who are willing to give all and to pray for their families that sacrificed with them.
I could preach a sermon right now on what God gave and what our response should be but no sermon today. Just a reminder to mark this special day and remember... We must never forget...