Memorial Day: A Day of Remembrance, Not Thanks
In the book of Judges, God commands Gideon, a man of no social standing, to lead an army against the Eastern tribes that were invading the lands of the Israelites. As the army formed, God exclaimed to Gideon that there were too many men, that they’d be boastful in their victory. Gideon pronounced to the group that all who trembled with fear could leave. Twenty-two thousand left, but still, there were too many. So, Gideon led the remaining forces down to a stream to drink. Here, God commanded Gideon to separate the men in two groups—those who went to their bellies and lapped water like a dog, and the others who kneeled, took water from their cupped hand, and kept their head to the horizon. This story, while brief, is powerful. Today’s society is one that lays on their bellies and laps water. Too few kneel, spear in hand, keeping watch, protecting others. Instead, as a people, we are preoccupied, we are too easily entertained, our attention too easily taken. But on Memorial Day, that ideolog needs to shift. On Memorial Day we need to shift our attention, to remove it from the device that so incessantly takes our precious time away. I am guilty of this, we all are. But on Memorial Day we need to remember.
What are we remembering? Memorial Day is commonly viewed as the unofficial beginning of summer. People spend their day off from work, having cookouts, shopping the countless sales, but otherwise going about their day as any other. However, Memorial Day is different. It shouldn’t be a day we gloss over. It should be a day of revered importance. Because on this day we REMBMER those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. That sacrifice, the giving of their life so that we may continue with ours, is only good and noble if we choose to live our lives in remembrance of those that can’t stand beside us. Right now, we are a society divided. We are vulnerable, we are susceptible to outside influence. We forget.
Many times, Veterans on Memorial Day are thanked for their service. Most accept the praise and continue without correcting. To an outsider, this seems like a courtesy that people extend to Veterans—it’s the polite thing to do. While Veterans should be thanked every day, Memorial Day is different. On this day, those veterans might be suffering. They may be remembering their fallen brothers and sisters in arms. They might be suffering from a silent killer. PTSD is real. Survivor’s Guilt is real. Instead of thanking, reach out and ask how they are doing. Memorial Day is not a day of thanks, but rather, a day to be thankful. A day to be thankful for the freedoms that our great nation has.
So, how do we celebrate Memorial Day? In short, the best way is to take a moment, or several, and reflect. Think about the freedoms we have, the sacrifices that were made to keep those freedoms, and how to make sure those freedoms endure into the future. Then talk with family and friends at the cookout, convey that same moment of silence. Teach your children. Others may take a different approach. Some go and complete the “Murph”— a fitness challenge that honors Lt. Michael Murphy, a SEAL who died during Operation Redwing. This event is where participants reflect upon the sacrifices made while enduring a grueling challenge. Others will watch movies or other forms of media to commemorate and remember. Whatever route you take, just remember.
In today’s world we have too few men and women kneeling while looking to the horizon. Most lay on their bellies. Those few lay down their lives to protect. I challenge everyone to take that moment of silence and just remember. Put down the phones, pause Netflix, and reflect. Be the best version of yourself.
Happy Memorial Day, be worthy of dying for.
“To those before us, to those amongst us, to those we will see on the other side. Lord let me not prove not unworthy of my friends.” –Bradley Cavner SEAL, EOL June 23, 2014
“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” –Except from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Adress.