by susan dayley in

Remembering can be a powerful concept when it is honored with reverence. Numerous scriptures exhort people to “remember.” Holidays are formed around the idea of remembering, whether it is the birth or resurrection of our Savior, the sacrifice of Pilgrims or Patriots, the men who gave their lives in service to their country, or more intimately our own ancestors whose sacrifices are shining lights for us and our children.

In the Old Testament, the Lord established feasts and standards that would cause the people to remember: particularly his miraculous deliverance of the Children of Israe. They were told to remember the days when the Lord's destroying angel passed them by in the night and later when the fleeing Israelites were saved from the pursuing chariots of Pharaoh by the Lord dividing the Red Sea. The yearly feast of the Passover was established with the Lord commanding, “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever” (Exodus 12:14). In keeping it, the people were reminded that it is only by the almighty hand of God that we are saved—in this world and the next.

King Hezekiah understood this and as soon as he was ordained king he took counsel with his advisors and princes so that the Passover feast could once again be kept, beginning that same season. “So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel…that they should come to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem” (II Chronicles 30:5).

Days of remembrance have been established throughout history. When Memorial Day was first observed it was called “Decoration Day” finding its early start with the women who would go to the graves of fallen Confederate soldiers and decorate them in remembrance. After it became a national holiday, all Americans turned their focus to remembering those soldiers who had paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Usually there are ceremonies with flags, music and prayers of gratitude.

When I was a child Memorial Day was the day to go to the cemetery where ancestors were buried and place large bouquets of lilacs stuck into oversized soup cans at the base of the headstone. Then we’d be told the stories. One time, after I was grown with a family of my own, we went to the mountain cemetery where my grandpa and grandma were buried shoulder to shoulder with friends and family. My father, a veteran of the Korean War, joined the silver haired men who carried the flag of America while a single trumpet played. After the Patriotic “Star Spangled Banner” was sung, and the pledge recommitted by all who stood huddled in the crisp morning air, a speech was given. Then the lone trumpet, to the rays of the rising sun, played “Taps,” a song about the close of a day, or a life.

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.

I have spent my share of Memorial Days at Amusement Parks, family barbeques, and lakes. But now I wonder if perhaps in the pursuit of pleasure, we missed opportunities to leave our children with a sense of legacy. Time together as a family is always priceless, but so is taking time, at least one day each year, to remember the stories, the men and the women, who have gone before. And the Lord who gives purpose to their lives and sacrifice. Perhaps it is time I remembered what Memorial Day is for.

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,” (Isaiah 46:8,9).


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