There seems to be a growing, well-intentioned attempt to conflate Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is just that -- a day to remember, or memorialize, those who have died in the service of our country. Veterans Day is a day to honor and thank all who have served, or are currently serving, in the armed forces.
Despite the Memorial Day sales "events" and its status as the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day is a solemn occasion. Yes, it's a bit incongruous -- like having an All Souls' Day sale at the mall. And I'm not suggesting we all put on sackcloth and ashes and forego the neighbor's barbecue on "moral grounds." But it is important to take a moment to remember those who have died serving in the military. It could be a minute of silent prayer or attending the local parade or visiting a cemetery.
This day should also transcend politics. Whether or not you agree with the military actions taken by our leaders over the years, some of our brothers and sisters have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. And that is well worth remembering, along with the pain and anguish of loved ones left behind.
So please don't thank me for my service today or give me 10% off a donut. This day is about those who are not able to be thanked, but only prayed for.
I'm not sure who wrote the following Prayer for Memorial Day but I think it captures the essence of what the day should be about for people of faith.
Blessings to you all this Memorial Day and may the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace and rise in Glory.
Prayer for Memorial Day
God of love and justice, it is your will that we live together in peace. Yet we live in a world in which war often seems inevitable. May we recognize with humility and sadness the tragic loss of life that comes in war. And as we enjoy freedom, we give thanks for those who have served with courage and honor; for those who resist evil and preserve justice.
We give thanks for those that are willing to serve. Let all soldiers everywhere serve with honor, pride, and compassion. Do not let their hearts be hardened by the actions they must take. Strengthen their families and keep them surrounded and guided by your love. We thank you for those that put the welfare of others ahead of their own safety. Let us all be inspired by their self-sacrifice in service to those who need protection.
We give thanks for those that have made the ultimate sacrifice. We ask that you be with those in pain
from their loss and keep us mindful that you have promised to comfort those that mourn and help us to be a comfort to them as well.
And by your grace, may we have the strength and courage to truly honor those who have served by working for peace. May we see in them not only their courage, but also our own call to work for a world that no longer sacrifices life in the quest for peace; that we might envision in our hearts and work in our lives toward that which you have promised through the prophet Isaiah: that day when swords will be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks, that day when nation shall not rise up against nation, and that day when we shall not learn war any more. Amen.