When I was a kid that’s what we called Memorial Day. It was a day spent placing flowers on the graves of our relatives who had passed away. In my home town of Rolla, Missouri we lived only a couple of blocks away from a very large cemetery where most of our family members were buried. We didn’t have much money but it was very important to my Mom to show her respect by placing flowers on the grave. We would go to a local store that sold the artificial flowers that had the bright and colorful ribbons with different sayings on them, and my Mom would let us help pick out the ones we liked the best.
We would spend a large part of the day placing the flowers on the grave sites and my Mom would tell us about this or that relative and how they fit into the family tree. They didn’t have to have served in the military for us to “decorate” the grave, it was just the time that we did it. Only after I grew up did I learn that this tradition of placing flowers on the graves of those that had given there lives for our country started just after the Civil War ended. I have to admit that when I was a kid this did not excite me. I actually considered it boring because all of the stories about everyone ran together and I got everyone mixed up. I think the short attention span of a child had a lot to do with my loss of interest, however as an adult I can look back and say that the history and stories that my Mom passed along were some of the best parts of my childhood.
Celebrating Memorial Day as an adult brings added meaning because I truly understand why we celebrate it. Our way of life would be very different if we did not have the freedoms we have today. These freedoms were paid for by the brave people who fought for our country since the time it was started. It’s sometimes hard to wrap your mind around the number of people who made a conscious decision that they loved this country enough to put themselves in harms way. These brave people have truly lived out the type of life written about in John 15:13, which stated “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” For those people that have given the ultimate sacrifice, as well as to those that are currently serving, I would like to say thank you for your service.
I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day, but please don’t forget why we celebrate it.