The calendar brings us to Memorial Day, the most solemn of our national holidays. Memorials—like all great things—were God’s idea first. God commanded the use of memorials to the children of Israel, and woven throughout scripture are examples of memorials as celebration and worship. Like everything that God commands, it is for man’s benefit.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” (John 15:13)
is the perfect focus for our hearts as we consider Memorial Day.
The grief following the Civil War birthed this Day of Remembrance. In 1865, with over a half-million lives lost in the War Between the States, grieving loved ones took flowers out to honor the dead. That first Decoration Day moved hearts to establish an official service which took place in Arlington National Cemetery in 1868. For decades the day remained one to honor only the dead of the Civil War. The deaths of WWI pierced the hearts of many, and the Day gradually enveloped all fallen military heroes.
For many today, though, Memorial Day is simply a day off work, a day to play. It is our duty to respect those who died to give us freedom. The future rests on the past; self-indulgence can do nothing to maintain our freedom. We need to know the stories of our heroes. Each is more than the way they died; they grew into their legacy; they leave loved ones behind. They were little boys and girls with innocent grade-school faces. They were girlfriends and boyfriends, husbands and wives, daddies and mommies. Their lives must be remembered that we can live their legacy. Memorial Day is a celebration of the sacrificial spirit that established our nation and sustains it.
Meet one of our heroes: Jordan Haerter. Just 19 when he died, he and his partner saved the lives of every person on the base they were guarding—except their own. Jordan was a little boy who loved historically accurate Halloween costumes—demanding that even his buttons be correct. He was a teenager who learned to fly a plane and soloed at only sixteen. He was a young man with a love of muddin’ his truck—and knew to the tenth of the mile the speed needed to produce exactly the coating he desired. He was the light of his family’s life and the love of a special young woman. He was a Marine on entry guard duty the day a suicidal bomber attacked the gate he was positioned at. With no regard for their own lives, the young soldiers became American heroes—giving their own lives to save the others.
Memorial Day must be a time to remember these stories…that we will be inspired to live as heroes ourselves…that we will remember the cost paid for our freedom. Learn a story today; share it with another. Love on the family of a member of our military. Christ calls us each of us to lay down our lives for others; this is the day we consider what that really looks like for many. Give honor to our countrymen and glory to God!