From what I understand,observe and hear from others, many more Americans these days are observing (or are beginning to observe) Memorial Day, a national holiday, as a day different from a day of simple vacation (perhaps well-deserved and beneficial) and self-absorption. Perhaps the reason is that all Americans surely know someone serving in the either the military or intelligence services in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere throughout the world. Americans also know that at any time those serving could make the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, love for their country and for those who they are protecting. In addition I'm sure all Americans realize, to some degree, the personal sacrifices they and their families already are making.
However, Memorial Day is to remember those who have already made the ultimate sacrifice for others and for a cause greater than themselves. Surely we can remember them and thank them in many ways today and throughout the year. The best way without doubt is through our prayers.
I’m happy to see that President Bush has once again declared Memorial Day as a “day of prayer for permanent peace.” (Proclamation) Just as the lives of the fallen have meaning so do our prayers to God.
No words are adequate to console those who have lost a loved one serving our Nation. We can only offer our prayers and join in their grief. We grieve for the mother who hears the sound of her child's 21-gun salute. We grieve for the husband or wife who receives a folded flag. We grieve for a young son or daughter who only knows dad from a photograph.
One holiday is not enough to commemorate all of the sacrifices that have been made by America's men and women in uniform. No group has ever done more to defend liberty than the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. Their bravery has done more than simply win battles. It has done more than win wars. It has secured a way of life for our entire country. These heroes and their families should be in our thoughts and prayers on a daily basis, and they should receive our loving thanks at every possible opportunity.
This Memorial Day, I ask all Americans to honor the sacrifices of those who have served you and our country. One way to do so is by joining in a moment of remembrance that will be marked across our country at 3:00 p.m. local time. At that moment, Major League Baseball games will pause, the National Memorial Day parade will halt, Amtrak trains will blow their whistles, and buglers in military cemeteries will play Taps. You can participate by placing a flag at a veteran's grave, taking your family to the battlefields where freedom was defended, or saying a silent prayer for all the Americans who were delivered out of the agony of war to meet their Creator. Their bravery has preserved the country we love so dearly. (President Bush's Radio Address, May 24, 2008)Let’s also pray that their bravery will inspire us to understand the value of each human life; that all hearts, intellects and wills will preserve the lives of all from conception until natural death; that those who promote violence and terrorism may have a change of heart; that we all understand that peace begins in each individual human heart with the active assistance of God's grace.
Related: Memorial Day USA
Photo: Fallen Heroes © Kristy Tillotson