Memorial Day: Celebration, Reflection, and Lament

 On Memorial Day, American citizens honor those who died while serving in our nation’s armed forces. For some, it is a day of celebration of patriotism and an occasion for gathering with friends and family. They may celebrate freedoms that remain because men and women died while protecting them. For others, Memorial Day is a day of reflection about the meaning of sacrifice and service. Jesus noted, foreshadowing his own sacrificial death by crucifixion, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Good Soldiers, whether in the nation’s service, or in that of the Lord, devote themselves to seeking the safety and welfare of others. We who survive the fray appreciate the sacrifice made by those who did not. Their deaths remind us of the commitment required to protect important principles. Memorial Day is also a day for lament. We mourn our loss: Fathers, sisters, uncles, daughters who no longer brighten our day with their humor or listen to us when no one else will. We ponder how history would have differed had they lived. Would Joseph Kennedy, Jr. have been elected President rather than his brother John if Joseph had not died during World War II? What would my life or my cousin’s life have been like if my uncle had not been killed in Vietnam? We weep for the lost opportunities, the shattered dreams, and the never-realized loves. We lament also the horror caused by the hatred, selfishness, and greed that often spark human conflicts that escalate into war. So, as Christians, even while some of us serve with awareness that we too may die in the service of our country, we must remember that we are called to be ministers of reconciliation who seek peace (2 Corinthians 5:18). We must remember that while we enjoy the aroma and flavors of a Memorial Day barbecue, others still grieve the laugh and the voice they will never hear again. Comfort those who mourn. Remember those who have perished. Resolve to live well for God and in service of others.

#lament, #memorial-day, #reconciliation, #reflection