Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

Memorial Day marks the informal start of summer—pools open, the barbecue season kicks off, and it’s OK to wear white shoes or sandals. But it has a more solemn aspect, implied in the name itself. Memorial Day is a day when we remember the nation's war dead. Not to be confused with Veterans Day—which honors living veterans—Memorial Day remembers those who gave their life for the country. How did this day begin? In 1868, Memorial Day was observed for the first time in the United States, at the request of Gen. John A. Logan, the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was called Decoration Day because the general had seen women decorating graves of Civil War heroes. In the earlier part of the century, Memorial Day was essentially a Northern and Western holiday. The South had its own Confederate Memorial Day, usually held in April. But World Wars I and II brought an added gravity to the day, as did the later Korean and Vietnam conflicts. In 1959, Congress proclaimed that a day be set aside in recognition of those who died in service to their country. Memorial Day was observed on May 30 until 1971, when Congress decreed that it be observed annually on the last Monday in May.
Most importantly, let us remember those widows and orphans who lost their spouses, parents and loved ones who have only memories of their heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. In their name I offer this prayer:

Eternal God, Creator of years, of centuries, Lord of whatever is beyond time,
Maker of all species and master of all history --
How shall we speak to you from our smallness and inconsequence?
Except that you have called us to worship you in spirit and in truth;
You have lifted us up with your loving kindnesses.
Therefore we are bold to come before you without fear (thought we are often anxious).
We sing with spirit and pray with courage because you have dignified us;
You have redeemed us from the aimlessness of things' going meaninglessly well.
God, lift the hearts of those for whom this holiday is not just diversion,
but painful memory and continued deprivation.
Bless those whose dear ones have died needlessly, wastefully in accident or misadventure.
We remember with compassion those who have died serving their countries in the futility of combat.
We believe that you will provide for us as others have been provided with the fulfillment of
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

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