Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Memorial Day

Year 7-Day 141: Today, I am grateful for Memorial Day.

It was established after the Civil War by Union Veterans and named "Decoration Day". 

I am not sure we can even imagine the horrors of the Civil War for those of us who have never left our USA borders. Brother against brother, state against neighboring state and so much more. How do you even begin to heal such a wound on a land where many of the young men... brothers, husbands and fathers are gone? 

Although politically divide, wounded by war and still not in full agreement, as a nation we could mourn together loved ones lost. In remembering, we can often begin to find healing. 

When my sister died, she was active duty at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa. One of or church camp friends had been stationed there and I know it intrigued her to hear Mark talk about his experiences when he came home. April was thrilled to be assigned to the coveted post. We were excited for her adventure, but sad for the distance. There would be no quick weekend visits, but she was following her heart and her dream. April was one of the most non-judgemental, loving people you would ever meet. We heard the stories of her help, hope and compassion for others at the time of her death and beyond. 

Part of military service is being there when others are in trouble or in need. It was a perfect fit for her in that season of her life. What we didn't know, is that it would be the end of her life. Her last 18 months were spent abroad. We didn't know she would die in her sleep from an undiagnosed heart defect just 7 days before she was scheduled to come home... and 14 days before her wedding day to the special Marine she had met in Okinawa.  

As we look forward to Memorial Day, not all who bury their loved ones with a rifle salute and TAPS die in war. The reverence of the Honor guard and the flag presentation are without a doubt an expression of honor and love for a brother or sister who have stepped up to protect freedom without regard to the cost. TAPS takes us all the way back to it's Civil War roots. Remembering matters. 

There is a Memorial Run in my hometown every summer. This year, they are remembering April. We were surprised... as she has been gone since 1995, but truly honored for our home community choosing to remember her. 

As we look toward this Memorial Day Weekend, there are weddings, graduations and other celebrations. Don't forget to remember the reason we have Monday off of work. 

I love this scripture. Paul is referencing our freedoms in Christ over the laws that we could not keep perfectly enough to please God's righteousness and his justice face. Love covered us and gave us freedom through Christ. 

For those of us in the USA, we were born into a freedom that is still pretty rare in this world. Our nation was founded on freedom to worship God no matter the name on the church door. This scripture is a great soldier's scripture: 

"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another." -Galatians 5:13 

Our freedom was purchased on the cross. It wasn't free, but it is a gift to us. To love others with that kind of selflessness, self-denial and humility reminds me of many who still serve today. They deserve our respect and gratitude. Remembering the fallen is the right thing to do. 

Today, I am grateful for Memorial Day.

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