Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, has evolved over the years. The first observance was held on May 1,1865 to honor soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War. Then it was expanded to be a day to honor all military personnel who have lost their lives for the good of our country, the United States of America. While there is still special emphasis for military men and women, currently it is also a time to remember all deceased family members and friends. Graves are decorated with flowers and flags.
Today I would like to be even more inclusive with those we honor. Let us take time to give special recognition to those of our armed services who are still alive today but suffer from the scars of war. I am particularly thinking of our veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. There are those who contracted what has come to be known as Gulf War syndrome. It causes fatigue, chronic headaches, and skin and respiratory disorders. Its origin is uncertain, though it has been attributed to exposure to a combination of pesticides, vaccines, and other chemicals. There are also those who suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The most common symptoms of PTSD include difficulty concentrating, apathy, feelings of detachment, loss of appetite, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, and sleep disturbances. Our veterans who experience these symptoms try to live normal daily lives as part of our society, but it is not an easy task for them. May we extend courtesy and compassion to these individuals and their families. May we honor them because they, in their own way, have given their lives for our country as well. Men and women do not need to be in a grave before we decorate them with remembrance and respect on Memorial Day.
Those who have accepted the task of fighting for our country, both living and dead, are to be commended for their dedication to the ideals and goals of the United States of America. Our nation was founded upon the premise and promise of freedom and liberty for all. In the past, our freedom has been defended and it still requires protection by our military men and women. Threats to our freedom exist today and I am thankful for those of our armed forces who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way to guard our homeland. Matthew 24:6-8 tells us that there will continue to be wars and rumors of wars as nations rise against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms until Christ returns; so our soldiers have a task before them. However, we also have the assurance of Matthew 28:20 when Jesus says that He will always be with us to the end of the age. He has been, currently is, and always will be with all of our military personnel and their families. May we remember them with special honor on Memorial Day for the protection they have provided for our nation, and may we remember them daily in our prayers so that their lives will be protected as well.