“I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” ~ Lee Greenwood
The concept of having a “Memorial Day” was initiated by General John Logan and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. General Logan proclaimed: “Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations, that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided Republic.”
The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 Memorial Day was observed in all the northern states but the South was still reluctant to acknowledge the day. After the First World War, the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring all Americans who died fighting in any war. It was at this time that Memorial Day began to be widely observed in both the North and the South. In the National Holiday Act of 1971 Congress established the last Monday in May as Memorial Day.
The idea of having a “memorial” has its roots in Scripture. It was not uncommon for the Children of Israel to mark a special place as a memorial to what God had done for them. We have a great example of that at the point they crossed the Jordan River and entered The Promised Land’:
We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ (Joshua 4:6 NLT)
Memorials help us tell stories to the next generation so they will understand the price that was paid and the sacrifices that were made. Take time to tell stories today and remember those who have fought to preserve our freedom. Today we honor all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice as well as those who have served to protect all we enjoy in this great country.
We are truly blessed. Even in the midst of challenging times, we still live in the greatest nation in the world. Today we say a unified “Thank You” to all who made this “freedom way of life” possible for all Americans to enjoy.
As Christian leaders, today is also a day to thank God for His favor on this nation and look to Him as our hope for the future. Let us not rest but continue the fight. Freedom is not free. It is very costly. Today is a day to value the richness of our freedom that has been purchased by the blood of all those who paid the costly price.
Today we remember, we honor, we celebrate, we enjoy life and liberty, because we are free. Today is for friends and families to come together, so memories can be celebrated as more are made.