Memorial Day

The solemnity of the occasion slaughtered any thoughts that I’d rather be playing.  It drowned out the heat and how uncomfortable I felt in my Girl Scout uniform.  As a ten year old child, I felt, probably for the first time in my life, patriotic.  It infuses me to this day.  On future Memorial Days, I silently thank my Girl Scout leader who took a small group of us to a local cemetery for their Memorial Day observance.

The ceremony touched me so deeply its memory has not faded.  I can still hear the chaplain’s voice proclaiming because of these brave men, we were free.  Free to disagree with the government, free from tyranny, and probably more important to a ten year old, free to fulfill our dreams by growing up to be who ever we wanted to be.

I remember looking up into the trees to see the sunlight’s glint dancing through the leaves.  At the same time, I wondered what it was like to pack your belongings into a canvas bag leaving behind family and friends to go fight a war.  Then never coming back to realize your life’s dreams.

Mostly I recall taking note of the soldiers’ pride and sense of duty in honoring their fallen comrades.  Taps played mournfully in the background.  This was followed by the traditional 21-gun salute.  Thundering, poignant and sad.  Then silence.  I’ll never know what everyone else was thinking during that silence, but I was lost in the thought of how truly precious life really is.  Which to this day, is amazing to me because as a fifth grader, you are filled with tangled emotions and life seems so complicated. Thinking about life and death seems so out of character for someone so young.

But later, when I became a Christian, I learned my thoughts that day echoed how God feels.  Life is so very precious.  And I no longer need a 21-gun salute to awaken that thought in me.  There are pages upon pages of places where the Bible says this is true:

{Psalm 103:11}   You’re loved more than you know, more than you see, more than you’ve even dared to dream.

{Jeremiah 29:11} No matter how it may feel, you’ve got a purpose and God’s got a plan.

{Genesis 1:31}  We only get one YOU and what you have to offer the world is good. 

{Romans 8:28}  Whatever has happened this week, it’s going to be okay and you are too.

So as you go about celebrating your Memorial Day with a barbeque, parade or family dinner, listen hard to what your heart is saying about those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Take a moment and thank God for their sacrifice and for our country.

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