Memorial Day typically marks the start of summer. We pull out our grills, hop in the pool, and otherwise jumpstart our warm-weather festivities. The joys summer provide will be even more meaningful this year, given the turmoil of the past year.
But Memorial Day is much more than an excuse to barbecue. On Memorial Day, we remember and honor those who died serving our country — and thus preserved the right we have to life and liberty.
Here are three things you can do to celebrate this Memorial Day.
This Memorial Day, make a point to remember those who sacrificed their lives to serve and protect our country.
This Memorial Day, make a point to remember those who sacrificed their lives to serve and protect our country. Perhaps you know someone who sacrificed his life — a friend, family member, loved one or neighbor.
If you want to join with others in this remembrance, you can pause at 3pm on Memorial Day. During this “National Moment of Remembrance,” you’ll join with millions of others in remembering those who have given their lives for us.
James Garfield, the decorated Civil War general and future President, delivered an address on Memorial Day (then called Decoration Day) at the dedication to Arlington Cemetery, and his words of remembrance continue to ring true today:
I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion. If silence is ever golden, it must be here beside the graves of fifteen thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem, the music of which can never be sung.
Many of us often confuse Memorial Day with Veteran’s Day, a day in November designated to thank everyone who has served in the armed forces. While the two are separate holidays, it wouldn’t hurt to use this opportunity to thank a veteran you know, as they rarely get the thanks they deserve.
A few years ago, we planned an event to recognize the veterans at our church. I asked these 10 men to share the highlights of how they had served our country. Their response blew me away. Represented in this group were men who had been involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis, earned purple hearts in Vietnam, served as Command Sergeant Major in the National Guard, earned a Bronze Star with V for Valor in Fallujah, worked as Nuclear Weapons Specialists and more.
I had never known the extent of their service because they rarely brag about it. But I was able to properly thank them for the first time. Memorial Day isn’t Veteran’s Day, but it never hurts to ask a veteran how they served and to thank them for their service. After all, Memorial Day may be especially personal for them, as they remember fallen friends and comrades.
We can use Memorial Day as an invitation to pray for those who serve in the military.
We can use Memorial Day as an invitation to pray for those who serve in the military. Here are some simple ways to pray:
- Pray for their safety, as they willingly put their lives on the line.
- Pray for their health, especially as they work in close quarters during COVID-19.
- Pray for their families, who often bear the weight of long deployments, distance and the overall challenges of military service.
- Pray for those who have lost loved ones in their service to our country.
- Pray for chaplains, who seek to share the love of Christ in these communities.
- Pray for salvations, that God would help these men and women to realize their sinfulness, see their need for a Savior and trust in Christ as their Savior.
Memorial Day may mark the start of summer, but it also offers us a special opportunity. Let’s remember those who gave their lives. Let’s thank those who served. And let’s pray — for their health, safety and souls.
This article was updated in May 2021.