We have marked Memorial Day for many, many years as a day on which we remember those who have given their lives for us in military conflicts. That was set as May 30th but, in the interests of having another ‘three-day weekend’, Congress passed a bill in 1971 making Memorial Day the last Monday in May.
We also, since 1961 have held a Memorial Day on May 15th to recognize fallen police officers. How many remember that day? Certainly, those who serve us remember and those whose families lost a member serving in law enforcement remember, but how many of us thought about this Memorial Day some two weeks ago?
There were also Decoration Days when the graves of those long since passed defending our freedom were decorated. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow put pen to paper to bring those days back to us lest we forget…
Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest, On this Field of Grounded Arms, Where foes no more molest, nor sentry’s shot alarms!
Ye have slept on the ground before, And started to your feet at the cannon’s sudden roar, Or the drums redoubling beat.
But in this camp of Death, No sound your slumber breaks; Here is no fevered breath, No wound that bleeds and aches.
All is repose and peace, Untrampled lies the sod: The shouts of battle cease, It is the truce of God!
Rest, comrades, rest and sleep! The thoughts of men shall be as sentinels to keep your rest from danger free.
Your silent tents of green, We deck with fragrant flowers, Yours has the suffering been, The memory shall be ours.
With each passing generation, we seem to lose more and more of these thoughts, these memories. They dull and then finally disappear lest some among us persevere to keep them alive and replete with meaning. In the rush to ‘get up north’ or to get ‘to the lake’ or just to ‘veg-out’ for the day, we forget those who died for us that we could be able to be so forgetful.
That should be worth at least a head bowed with a sincere prayer of thanks going into the heavens. That should help us conjure up the image of long ago lost relatives and friends who laid down their lives for us and for our freedom that we might simply be forgetful and relax on another day of rest.
There will, unfortunately, be more of those lives given for us as we watch the world in such a state of turmoil and evil. It seems that each generation has its number, its quota, of lives to be given up to forces of evil for the good of others. As we remember those who went before us, might it be possible for us to also find the steel for our backbones that we take the steps necessary to continue our freedoms before we have dallied and let those slip away to the forces of evil?
I pray that we will take that lesson to heart soon enough, for those forces are coming as surely as there will be nightfall. We must overcome those forces of evil and bequeath a peaceful, God-fearing nation to our children and their children while there is still time.