The Grand Army of the Republic was a Union Army fraternal organization composed of Union Civil War Veterans. The organization no longer exists, but its national impact is undeniable. In 1868, General John Alexander Logan, a soldier and politician who served in the Union Army, initiated a movement to honor those who died in the Civil War. And rightfully so, as the estimates range from 620,000 to 850,000 lives lost. John Alexander Logan suggested it be a “Decoration Day,” honoring the fallen.
Wars have not ceased, neither has the mourning for each soldier who has died in service to their country. Since 1775, an estimated 1.3 million military fatalities have occurred. Our government recognized John Alexander Logan’s request was not broad enough. It became more than a moment where we nationally “decorated” those who gave their lives during the Civil War. It became a day to intentionally call to memory those whose sacrifice may otherwise be forgotten.
Whether you agree with the cause or nature of any war involving American soldiers, an undeniable human component we cannot neglect exists, and its principle is deeply connected to the gospel message and the sacrament of communion. Modern day America may not fully understand the biblical principles which crafted the foundation for recognizing a day of honor, a day of remembrance. Disagreement with the nature of the loss does not invalidate the pain of the loss.
From the headlines of Jesus’ day
You may vehemently disagree in the way that Jesus died. He was innocent, but it didn’t matter. Jesus stood in front of people set on condemning Him to torture and death with no regard to the purity of His mission. It was unfair, but it has been said, “Fair died on the cross.”
When you look at your circumstance and are tempted to declare, “This is not fair!” remember Jesus as He stood condemned without just cause. If anyone had the right to make a statement about fairness, it was Jesus, but He did not utter a word. Instead, He leaned into God’s ability to take the most painful moment of His existence and transform it into something beautiful.
His friends turned their backs on Him. His followers scattered. He received this sentence alone. He stood firm and trusted the Lord. Without His humble submission to the Father’s plan there would be no resurrection. It wasn’t fair, you may not agree, but it doesn’t mean you forget.
American history has been peppered questionable military engagements and the result were catastrophic for relationships, economies, and lineages. You may not agree, but it doesn’t mean you forget.
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ESV).
During biblical times they utilized oral traditions and repetitive storytelling to ensure moments were not forgotten. Sometimes they erected altars as a dedication to a moment in time when God revealed Himself, performed the miraculous or made such an imprint human history it had to be immortalized with visual reference points.
We do the same today. In Washington D.C. we have:
- The Washington Monument
- The Lincoln Memorial
- The Thomas Jefferson Memorial
- The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
- The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and more.
In fact, there are over 160 monuments and memorials in Washington D.C. Remembering is part of what humanity is crafted to do. It is the lessons learned and lives lost that form in us a greater resolve to be better, braver, and wiser.
Sacrifice does not require we be liked, appreciated, or loved. A person’s decision to sacrifice is not contingent upon a consensus of approval. No, we sacrifice because we believe the cause is greater than our own comfort, and in some circumstances, our own lives.
Jesus went to battle for you!
Jesus understood this when He went to the cross for us. He fought the ultimate battle and He won. His battle was not for military might, economic advancements, or territory. It was for your eternal soul, and He didn’t want you to forget it. He asked that we remember His sacrifice (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). And in John He asked that we honor all who lay down their lives for others.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13 NIV).
If we filter Memorial Day through Jesus’ command, then it is not simply a “day to remember.” It’s not simply a “Decoration Day.” No, it’s a day to love. We don’t just remember those who are lost, we actively love those who still have breath in their lungs but bravely choose to wake up each day, picking the pieces of their lives after unimaginable loss. We remember Jesus’ sacrifice, but we also remember how downcast the disciples were after He was buried prior to the resurrection.
As we think about Jesus, we understand there is a difference between passive remembrance and active remembrance. Passively remembering Jesus does not require action. No change is necessary and there are no expectations to do anything but remember. We often take communion remembering Jesus, while simultaneously restraining the responsibility to be more like Him.
Active remembrance is what Jesus had in mind when He declared, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25 ESV).
Bring the past into the present
Read it again. Do this. Do this. An action is connected to remembrance. Remembering means participating. It means bringing His past sacrifice into your present reality, allowing your life to be transformed.
Likewise, we should actively remember our fallen soldiers. We should think about our responsibilities in the light of their sacrifice. They’ve earned the decorations and memorials, but even more so, they’ve earned our love and respect. So, we do this. We fly the red, white, and blue; we tie a yellow ribbon around a tree, and we remember. This day is not forced upon the reverent. It is willingly embraced because if we are honest, if we made an equal sacrifice, we would want it to be remembered and we would want it to matter.
How can you honor the fallen this Memorial Day? You can:
- Participate in an activity to support the families who have lost loved ones. Invite them over for dinner, initiate a fundraiser or participate in a Memorial Day walk or race.
- Research the rich history of the various military branches, educating yourself so you can have intelligent dialogue with a family who has suffered loss.
- Participate in a coordinated workout with friends, neighbors or others currently serving their country.
- You can fly an American flag outside your home.
John Thune said, “I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.”
- Be proud of the flag this Memorial Day.
- Pray for those who are left behind to pick up the pieces, that they would find peace in Father God. Pray protection over those who are still fighting.
- Encourage a community-wide moment of silence at a designated time to honor the fallen.
If your heart is moved by loss today, we say thank you.
Your loss is not in vain.
- To every mother who lost a child to the service of their country, we say thank you. Your loss is not in vain.
- To every father who never got to see his son become a father, we say thank you. Your loss is not in vain.
- To every sibling who lost their brother or sister, we say thank you. Your loss is not in vain.
- To every son or daughter who lost a father or mother, we say thank you. Your loss is not in vain.
- To every individual who never met their grandparent because they gave it all before you were born, we say thank you. Your loss is not in vain.
- To every child who will never meet their parent on this side of eternity, we say thank you. Your loss is not in vain.
Hellen Keller said, “So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.”
This Memorial Day we keep their memories in our minds, their names on our lips, and we remember them with our solemn acknowledgements. And because of them we will declare, life is good.
Check out the devotional in honor of those who gave their lives. PLEASE HYPERLINK TO THE MEMORIAL DAY DEVO _ SHOULD BE POSTED MAY 5.
A nice card, some flowers and definitely chocolate – all great ways to honor mom! This year, Family Life Radio would like to help you do something extra special for her… and it’s as simple as taking a picture.
It is easy…
1. Post a selfie of you with your mom here and tell us in a few sentences what makes her so amazing!
2. When we tell you, call 888-888-9976 and tell us what makes your mom special.
a. Kankelfritz and Friends: 7:05 a.m. PDT/10:05 a.m. EDT
b. Middays with Shannyn Caldwell: 9:30 a.m. PDT/12:30 p.m. EDT
c. Afternoons with Dave Moore: 3:00 p.m. PDT/6:00 p.m. EDT
We might be sharing YOUR story during Kankelfritz and Friends, Middays with Shannyn Caldwell or on Afternoons with Dave Moore between May 2-6, 2022. If we share your story, you’ll receive a music CD or facial skincare mask for calling and the mom in your life will be entered for the Grand Prize (a $200 Spa Day!) given away on Friday, May 6, 2022, on the Afternoon Show with Dave Moore!
For details and official rules, click here
Who is coming to dinner?
Celebrations usually include food and people. Easter is no exception. Friends and families gather to feast and rejoice, in remembrance of the resurrection of the Son of God.
With fanfare, Grandma presents her famous ham-balls, Aunt Judy brings special party potatoes, Cousin Barbara the red-hot candied apples and not to be out-done, Sister Sue presents her blue-ribbon coconut cake. Or possibly the local take-out joint comes knocking on the door, delivering hot pizza. Whichever scenario you choose, special events include food and community.
Four months ago, this same crowd gathered to celebrate Christmas. The food was enjoyed, but when you consider the people, not all were enjoyable. Some were barely tolerable. Arriving in anticipation of sharing the joyous holiday, departing hours later feeling less than – judged, misunderstood or confidence shaken. A recurring theme, but a different season – same emotion, leaving an undeniable imprint.
Will Easter be any different?
Easter celebrations with food, family and community offer choices.
Choosing to eat wisely, combined with portion control, creates delight and energy. Choosing indulgence without restraint generates misery and exhaustion.
Just like food, gatherings offer choices too – the choice to depart in delight with confidence intact or exit exhausted and miserable.
You can have a successful family gathering this Easter.
- Plan the departure time before arrival. Choosing an exit hour is freeing and creates enhanced enjoyment of the occasion.
- Sharing the departure time with the host is courteous.
- Stating “Thank you for understanding” expresses expectation of the response.
- Expect pushback. Few people enjoy change.
- Create a buddy system to protect yourself and others against toxic, overbearing and judgmental guests.
Conversations become more intentional and meaningful when an exit time is established.
Choices can be hard. Choosing to step away from the recurring holiday theme is easier said than done. Change is difficult. Old habits die hard. Disappointing others is thorny. However, staying in the sameness is also hard, experiencing celebration after celebration eroding confidence. Exiting in misery hurts your heart.
When choosing the “right” hard, there is heightened anticipation and enjoyment in each celebration. Space is created with beautiful freedom to fully celebrate and rejoice in the occasion with others while enjoying a piece of coconut cake.
Read the first post in this blog series: