Memorial Day – A Day of Honor

On Monday, May 29, as Americans, we will celebrate what has become known as Memorial Day. Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Numerous cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day but rregardless of the exact date or location of its origins, we do know that Decoration Day, or Memorial Day, originated after the Civil War with a desire to honor our dead. May 30, 1868 was the first Decoration Day. General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery while 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in Arlington.

Over the years, this special day has come to embrace not only Civil War soldiers who lost their lives but to also remember and recognize all those who have sacrificed their lives, living and dead, to serve in our military forces. When we celebrate Memorial Day, we take time to recognize those who are willing to protect us. Today I want to suggest that we expand our perception of those who protect us to include our first responders. These are people who are actively involved in our everyday homeland security.

When I think of our military, I imagine men and woman dressed in uniforms representing the Army, Air Force and Navy. However, I also see our first responders in other types of uniforms. I see police, firefighters and ambulance crew workers in attire signifying their form of service. Our military forces are stationed in countries around the world where they are put in harm’s way. In a different yet similar way, the members of our police force are in harm’s way when they respond to certain calls. I am not diminishing the right for us to take time to honor our military forces. However, I do feel these people are also worthy of our recognition and thanks for their services.

First responders include many people in numerous capacities. Approximately two months ago, we became particularly aware of another specific group of first responders who helped our area. We had a wind storm with 81 MPH wind gusts that resulted in over 100,000 people losing electrical power in  homes. Utility crews were the first responders to this situation. Their uniforms were orange vests and hard hats, Not only were all the workers of our local utility companies working around the clock to restore power, but 290 other utility crews came to aid the restoration process.

I want to highlight three scriptures that remind me of our first responders. When I read I Corinthians 16:13, I think of our National Guard. The verse states,Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” However, all of our first responders definitely show courage and strength. John 14:27 records Jesus saying, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The peace Jesus offers has a spiritual depth not offered by anyone else. Only the peace of God can enable our hearts to not be troubled or afraid. However, keeping peace within a city is the goal of the police force. There are certain locations within many cities where it is hard to live free of trouble and fear, but our police strive to provide us a peaceful environment. Jesus concludes Matthew 10:8 by saying, “Freely you have received; freely give.” Especially in smaller communities, many firefighters are volunteers who freely give of their time to help others.

Romans 13:7 is a good scripture for us to be mindful of regarding all those who are or have been part of our military forces and civilian responders.Give to everyone what you owe them: … if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” These individuals deserve our respect and honor for their commitment to serve our nation and our citizens. Memorial Day is a good opportunity for us to set aside time to publicly recognize and thank those who protect us around the world and at home. However, they are also worthy of our support and gratitude every day of the year. Our freedom depends upon them.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

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Remember Our Vets: Living and Dead

memorial-day

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.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Memorials for Memorial Day

 

 

flags-and-stonesMost of us are looking forward to the upcoming long holiday weekend observing Memorial Day. It is a sobering fact that many people do not celebrate this holiday as it was originally intended. Memorial Day was instituted as a federal holiday in the United States to remember the men and women who died while serving in our country’s armed forces. It originated after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers, but by the 20th century, the honor was extended in memory of all Americans who have died while in military service.

Today I want to think about how we can best fulfill the original intent of Memorial Day , but before I do that I want to share some scriptural background for creating memorials. In Joshua 4, we find the story of Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan River  into the Promised Land.

And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the
Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants
ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed
the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan
before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the
Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before
us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the
earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you
might always fear the Lord your God.”
Joshua 4:20-24

After 40 years in the wilderness, Joshua wanted to be sure future generations would remember the faithfulness of God in leading His people out of slavery and into freedom. As the Israelites crossed the Jordan River on dry ground, Joshua had one man from each of the 12 tribes carry on his shoulders a stone from the dry riverbed to the other side. With these 12 stones, they erected a memorial. The purpose of this memorial was to be a thankful reminder to the people of what God had done as well as it to be a structure future children would ask about. It would provide the opportunity for adults to share their story of deliverance with generations yet to come.

WWII_Memorial from wikipedia LINKviet nam memorial widipedia LINK

When I apply the scriptural account of Joshua building a memorial in the Promised Land to our remembering those who have given their lives for our country, I think about national monuments that have been built in Washington D.C. Right now I want to focus primarily upon the memorials erected in honor of veterans of World War II and the Vietnam War. I want to emphasize these two memorials because there are people still alive who served in these two wars. Visiting these memorials has brought healing to many men and women of our country. However, as we celebrate Memorial Day this year I suggest that we do more than just look at monuments we have built in honor of these military heroes. My Reader, do you know a veteran from either of these wars who you could visit on Memorial Day? Ask them to share with you some of their experiences. I realize soldiers often prefer to forget what they have encountered and I want to respect that but I also want them to know that we still care about what they did for our country. I want them to know their sacrifices are still appreciated.

The stories of soldiers that we may be privileged to hear are part of our nation’s history. Textbooks and news articles record one aspect of history but personal perspectives give us insights beyond the facts. Stories help historical facts come alive. Although I do not know the original source of the following phrase, I like its message. “Our story is HIStory.” Whether it be the story of Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land or the individual story of each United States veteran, there is a tale to be told. Each story is a page of history and each story has the potential of being HIStory when God is given His place of honor within the story.

My Reader, I encourage you to make Memorial Day 2015 a day of honoring both the living and the dead. If you know of fallen heroes within your family, please honor them with flowers and flags on their graves. If you have friends and family who have previously served in the armed forces or are currently serving in our military, take time to thank them for their services and listen to their stories. Following the example of the Israelites who erected the stone memorial, may we remember that we are a nation under God. May we also follow Joshua’s example by honoring past generations and sharing their stories with future generations. There has been and continues to be a high price paid by our citizens in order for the United States of America to remain a free nation that honors God.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Another thought: I have focused upon the members of our armed forces today. However, I also encourage you to take time on Memorial Day to share with your children stories about the history of your family ancestors whom they may not have had the privilege of knowing. I also encourage you to make HIStory part of your family story that will be part of your genealogy.

Hugs of Honor for Miliatary Families

Memorial Day (MF)

On Monday we will be celebrating Memorial Day. This is a day to honor the living and the dead who have given their lives for the freedom of our country. It is a privilege and a responsibility to recognize our military heroes. However, I feel there are others who need to be honored on this day as well. These people are the family members of the men and women who have served or are serving in our armed forces.

Right now I focus upon the families who have lost loved ones. Our fallen soldiers had moms and dads, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters along with extended family members and special friends. I want to say thank you to those who sacrificed their loved ones for our freedom as the nation of the United States of America. We honor our fallen soldiers with flags and flowers on their graves and this is the right thing to do. However, I think we also should share the sorrow of the families of these deceased men and women by giving them a hug of honor on Memorial Day.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4 NIV

This particular scripture verse comes to my mind for these families this weekend. When I think about how God might bless these family members, I perceive God’s presence and anointing being available to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. I believe God anoints them with a special strength allowing them to remember the past yet continuing to live their own lives in the present. The Latin derivative for comfort is “com” meaning intense and “fort” signifying strength. I believe God pours out a unique strength upon those who have lost loved ones through our military service.

“Blessed and enviably happy [with a [a]happiness produced by the experience
of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace]
are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!”
Matthew 5:4 Amplified Bible

It takes time for me to comprehend the depth of meaning of this translation. However, I do believe that God cares for these families in a way that allows them to experience a specialized form of happiness. Through the Internet I read an article from Christianity Today that gave me some additional insight. Two quotes remain in my mind.

“EVERY SUFFERING can be blessed because it hollows out a place
in us for God and his comfort, which is infinite joy.”
Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue.

Families who have lost men and women who were in harm’s way for our nation have a unique hollow or empty spot. Fortunately, we have a God who knows just how to fill their emptiness.

IT IS NOT ENOUGH for us … within the arena of the world’s pain
merely to know of a God who sympathizes. It is not even enough to know
of a God who heals. We need to know of and be connected with a God who
experiences with us, for us, each grief, each wound. We need to be bonded
with a God who has had nails in the hands and a spear in the heart!
Flora Slosson Wuellner, Weavings

Military families may have loved ones who were wounded to the point of death. Now these family members are bonded to God who has a spear in His own heart in a unique way. They can experience a specific bond with God through the way He helps them cope with the loss of loved ones. I like that these families have the ability to be connected with God in a personal way in addition to knowing about Him.

I also believe that we as fellow Americans have a responsibility to comfort those who mourn the loss of Military personnel. Sometimes all of us just need “God with skin on” to help us through difficult days. I believe Memorial Day can be one of those difficult days for military families no matter how many years since they encountered the loss of a loved one. Most likely, they remember their loved ones in a very personal and private way on this day. I want to seek out one or more of these families and encourage them to share memories with me on Memorial Day of the loved one they proudly sent off to serve their country. Although they knew there was a chance of loss, yet they expected their loved one to return. When they said good-bye to him or her leaving for active military service, they did not expect it to be their final good-bye. The lives of military men and women have been lost, but in a sense there are portions of the lives of their families that have also been lost. I want to say thanks to them for giving up their loved ones for my freedom.

My Reader, I encourage you to join me by taking time this Memorial Day to remember both the men and women who have given their lives for our country and the family members who have given the lives of their loved ones for our country. Salute the flags on the graves of military heroes but also extend hugs of honor to their families.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

MEMORIAL DAY: i remember

oklahoma(Reader: I wrote today’s blog a week before I planned to post it and now I feel like I need to add a preface to what I want to share.  i remember has additional meaning for me since the tornado hit the Oklahoma area, especially the town of Moore,  this past Monday. Reader, you and I need to remember to pray for the people who have lost family members and homes and so much more.  The one thing they have not lost is their faith in God and their ability to help each other.  As Memorial Day arrives in Oklahoma, many people will be saying i remember with their own personal stories.  May “i remember” not only be a phrase but an action for each of us regarding those affected by this natural disaster.  May each of us say i remember with the people of Oklahoma today, Monday and many days to follow.  Now, the following is what I wrote for this week.)

MEMORIAL DAY:  i remember observing this day as a child much differently than we celebrate it today.  We were up early in the morning so we could get to the cemetery to put flowers on the graves of loved ones before the special Memorial Day Service was held in the cemetery.  With flowers and wreaths on most gravesites and small flags waving in the breeze over the graves of military men and women, the cemetery was a beautiful sight.  When I was in the school band, we always marched from the high school auditorium, through the town, and up to the cemetery.  We would march to the beat of the drums until we entered the cemetery grounds and then the drummers would only keep beat by quietly tapping their sticks on the rim of their drums.  It was a solemn and sacred ceremony.   As a band, we played such songs as “Nearer My God to Thee.”  Names were read of all those who had served in the military and were now buried in this particular cemetery.  One of the pastors of a local church gave a message, the Gettysburg Address was spoken,  and taps were played by a trumpeter. During the rest of the day, other relatives who had come to place flowers on the graves of their family members might stop by our home to visit.  It was a day of remembering not only military heroes but also family members who had died.

Memorial Day (MF)MEMORIAL DAY:  i remember this day historically as being a day set aside to honor those who died serving in the United States Armed Forces.  According to Wikipedia, Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War.  It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead.  After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women who died in any war or military action. This holiday was originally known as Decoration Day and the current name did not come into use until after World War II. This commemoration used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week, until 1968.  Personally, I do not want to forget the true meaning of this day nor do I want to forget the lives that have been lost for the freedom of the United States of America!

communionMEMORIAL DAY:  i remember another life and sacrifice as I reflect upon the meaning of the holiday we will celebrate on Monday.  The life I am referring to is the life of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice I am referring to is Jesus dying upon the cross for the forgiveness of oursins making it possible for you and me to have everlasting life.  Luke 22 records the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples before His crucifixion and the meaning he gave to the bread and the wine at this Passover meal.  Luke 22:19-20 says, “And He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’  Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.’”  This is the way Jesus wants me to remember His purpose of coming to earth, and He wants me to do this as a memorial. However, these words are not only for Memorial Day, but anytime that I celebrate communion with the body of Christ.

 MEMORIAL DAY:  i remember these solemn and sacred ways of remembering memories.  It saddens me to see how selfish I and our nation have become towards the observance of Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, as it was formerly known.  Yes, it should be a federal holiday because it is a time for our nation to honor the living and the dead of our military forces.  However, Memorial Day has become less of an occasion of remembrance and more of a reason to have picnics and do outside projects. The fact that the date of observance has been changed to the last Monday of the month and not on the day of May 30 shows that we are more concerned about the convenience of a long weekend off from work or school than a day to give thanks for those who have put their lives in harms way to protect us and our nation.  It also saddens me as to how complacent our nation has become towards what Jesus has done for us personally and as a nation.  If we believe what we say in our Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag that we are “one nation, under God,” then we need to remember what God has done for us and allow Him to still lead our nation.

So, my Reader, how are you going to celebrate Memorial Day, May 27, 2013?  I hope you will take time to remember the true meaning of this day.  Remember the lives that were lost for you and our nation.  Remember the lives of loved ones who have gone before you and have set an example for how we are to live our lives today. Remember the best example set forth through the life of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He gave so that you and I can live not only today but eternally.

Happy Memorial Day!golden apple #2(MF)

Joyfully,
Cheryl