Monday, May 27, 2013

Don't Forget to Remember: Memorial Day

As I write this, I'm enjoying a day off from the usual routine--a day off from work. It's Memorial Day, a day that is often called the unofficial kick-off to summer. A day of picnics, barbecues, swimming, and other outdoor events (if weather cooperates). I'll confess that it's only been in the past few years that I really paid attention to the real meaning behind Memorial Day. I'm sure I had heard the meaning, but when you're young that sort of symbolism gets lost in the excitement of other things. I suppose as I've gotten older that I've really come to appreciate the true meaning behind things I used to take for granted, about life and death, and spiritual matters.

Because it is Memorial Day, I want to think about what this really means. Here's a definition of the word memorial:

memorial [mɪˈmɔːrɪəl]
1. serving to preserve the memory of the dead or a past event
2. of or involving memory
1. something serving as a remembrance
2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a written statement of facts submitted to a government, authority, etc., in conjunction with a petition
3. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) an informal diplomatic paper
[from Late Latin memoriāle a reminder, neuter of memoriālis belonging to remembrance]
(courtesy of

A memorial is simply a reminder. It's a way to preserve the past for those of us in the present and those in the future. Reminders are second-nature to all of us. We have sticky-notes that remind us of important memos. We have alarm clocks to wake us up or remind us of appointments. We have photographs of our friends and families that remind us of their faces or events.  We even have scars on our bodies that remind us of the time we fell down on the playground, wiped out on our bicycle, and even of an accident we'd rather not remember. These are everyday reminders or memorials. I bet you never thought of a scar as a memorial!

The Bible is full of memorials too. The Old Testament is full of these memorials. A memorial was errected whenever something significant happened in their lives. It was usually a reminder of God's provision and intervention in their lives. One such memorial is that set up by Joshua in chapter 4. Following the Israelites 40-year wandering in the desert, they entered the Promised Land, but had to cross the Jordan River. God provided a way across the river for them and verse 9 tells us that, "Joshua also set up another pile of twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, at the place where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing. And they are there to this day."

As we celebrate this Memorial Day in the United States, we remember the sacrificies of men and women in the service of our country. We also remember the loved-ones they left behind. Enjoy the holiday, the day off, the picnics, but take a few moments to remember the sacrifices we so often take for granted.

Hope you have a safe and pleasant holiday.

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