“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13 KJV

       Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. There are many stories about its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.”  While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all. Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 to ensure a three-day weekend for Federal holidays). Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans today have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country. To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.” The Moment of Remembrance is a step in the right direction to returning the meaning back to the day. What is needed is a full return to the original day of observance. Set aside one day out of the year for the nation to get together to remember, reflect and honor those who have given their all in service to their country. Memorial day is a day to remember those who have fallen in the service of our country. This is something that we can and all should do, however we feel about the present politic and wars. We can and should recognize and honor the tremendous sacrifices made by those who volunteer to serve our country and especially by those who pay the ultimate price. Their families are impacted forever, and their sacrifice never ends. We acknowledge and honor their sacrifice. The Bible says, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:16 KJV  And it is good that we have a holiday to help us remember. We are that kind of people. Without Memorial Day, we would soon forget to acknowledge their sacrifices. Without a special day, it is easy to let things sort of slide by. For many, even with a holiday, they have no idea why we celebrate. For them, it is just the three-day holiday that begins the Summer season and there are a lot of furniture sales. We take our freedom for granted. Here we sit today, praying, singing, fellowshipping, worshipping God together, reading His Word without fear of reprisal, intimidation, persecution, and with no restriction from the government, whatsoever. It is a blessing we very much take for granted. The Bible says, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 KJV  War is a regrettable thing, although necessary, no one in their right mind likes war, and nobody wants to go to war. War is not glamorous/romantic, though Hollywood often tries to portray it as such. War is a terrible thing, a regrettable thing. But there are some things that are worse than war. Obviously, some things are very important to remember, and some things are not. There are some things that God wants you to remember. God wants you to write them on your palm, and on your heart and on your mind. The right answers about war are found only in the Word of God. There are believers today who say that war is ALWAYS wrong. It is foolish and wicked to desire war, but it’s foolish and naïve to think that war is always avoidable. For there are wicked people in this world that will kill, steal, and destroy without blinking an eye, that’s the human nature, the sin nature, unleashed! Don’t get the idea that the more advanced man becomes technologically, that the more educated we become and the more civilized we become, that we become more mellow and kind, and not that things would get more and more peaceful, that is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible says, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” Matthew 24:6-7 KJV  Jesus is the One Who will end all wars.  He is the One Who will be able to proclaim, “World War Won!”  But there will be no peace on earth, until the Prince of Peace arrives! But until that day arrives, this is a fallen world, for we all have a fallen nature, and there will be war! In the Bible, righteousness and peace are linked together. When our nation is right with God, we’re standing on the Rock, but when we’re not right with God, we’re on sinking sand. God is our defender, and we’d better not forget that! The Bible says, “For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.” Deuteronomy 32:31 KJV  I thank God for freedom,  those who bought and paid for it with their lives in the past,  those who will protect it in the present and defend it in the future. America has remained silent too long! God-fearing people have remained silent too long! So, let us stand proud, and let us be the human shields of prayer, encouragement and support for our troops and their families and our country. Jesus said in, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 KJV  Then Jesus did just that, laid down His life, for you and me.  That war is already won, if you are on the winning side! It’s spiritual freedom that you need, and it was purchased for you at a very high price. We honor the memory of those who paid the ultimate price for freedom. Yet the words on that stone carry a far greater meaning. Jesus spoke them the night before He died on the cross for the sins of a needy world. His death was not for freedom from political tyranny but freedom from the penalty of sin. His death was not just to give us a better life, but to give us eternal life. It is important to remember those who have given their lives for their country, but may we never forget to praise and honor the Christ who died for a dying world. Truly, there is no greater love than this. So why not today open your heart to Jesus Christ, because He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood for your sins so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: