Thursday, May 25, 2017

They gathered in the summer heat to remember...

Decoration Day, around 1927
   On a spring afternoon over 150 years ago, a family stepped off the wagon bench and made their way across the cemetery to find the crude marker erected for John. He would have been brother, son, maybe even husband and father. John would have been one of the hundreds of thousands that were similarly remembered at cemeteries hastily lined out on the very fields of battle of the Civil War. They came out to remember and hold on.
   In 1866, the practice of remembering one person extended to many persons. Three women in Columbus, Mississippi decorated the graves marking fallen from both sides with flowers. The US Department of Veteran Affairs gives Columbus, Georgia a nod as possibly being one of the first cities to observe the day - a distinction that apparently is hotly debated. By 1868 the practice of decorating soldiers' graves had spread. The earliest Memorial Day celebrations were simple, somber occasions for veterans and their families to honor the day and attend to local cemeteries.  It was known as Decoration Day for the first many decades of its observance.
   Regardless of the name of the day, or the soldier memorialized, the tradition that was started for one war has been extended to the wars and conflicts since. It has extended out from the families of fallen soldiers to families of thankful Americans everywhere. No longer can we leave the work of Memorial Day only to those most closely affected.
   My prayer is that the memorials we offer last longer than cut flowers.  My prayer is that we would be unfailing in our prayers of thanksgiving and efforts for peace.
   The church gathers to say thanks to those who have served, to those who are serving, and to remember those who gave their lives in our nation's efforts to establish freedom. The Scriptures use the word Remember over 200 times. Apparently God knows that even the command to remember is something we will forget. It is a theme and an action we must continue to pick up and carry on.
   Grace and Peace to you, Scott

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