Memorial Day is more than a day off

By LAURA KING

Memorial Day is a time to honor those who have died, particularly those who have served our nation in the military. I used to enjoy trips with my Grandmother to decorate the graves for the holiday.

She grew poppies in her backyard that were always blooming then, along with irises. She would create bouquets and we would drive down back roads to an old abandoned church cemetery and place flowers on the graves of loved ones. Some of those graves were not marked with a headstone, but Grandma knew right where to go. Today I don’t know if I could even find the cemetery. I was a child and along for the ride.

Fast forward to my time as a dependent wife of an active duty soldier living in Europe. We would travel to the cemetery in Luxembourg to commemorate the day. Rows and rows of white crosses with an occasional Star of David thrown in lined the field. There was one white cross exactly the same as the others but set apart in a small garden. The name on that stone was Gen. George Patton.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (NIV) Jesus is talking to his disciples before his crucifixion. And we give thanks for the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. We should also give thanks for the sacrifice of those who have died in service to our nation.

Few of us commemorate Memorial Day as anything more than a three-day weekend, the beginning of summer, a time to picnic and party and play. But those who have given their lives for us deserve to be remembered. Many never came home, but even those who did came home changed. Take a walk in a local cemetery and look at all the flags. Remember those who have served and are now gone to their reward. Place a flower on a grave and mark this holiday in a real, tangible way.

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Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Pastor Laura King of McElhattan United Methodist Church, McElhattan.

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