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We should honor the fallen on Memorial Day

By Barbara Latta
blatta146@gmail.com

The Lord called for memorials and celebrations to occur on multiple occasions throughout history. Joshua commanded a member of each tribe of Israel to take a stone and set it up on the banks of the Jordan River after they crossed to recognize their victory in entering the Promised Land (Joshua 4:5–6).
Remembering people who have sacrificed to save others is essential to our dignity as human beings. How can we treasure what was purchased for us if we refuse to pay tribute to what they did?

The Civil War cost more American lives than any conflict in the history of this land. After the war, the first national cemeteries were established to hallow the dead. President Abraham Lincoln dedicated the field at Gettysburg with heartfelt words that have grown into a motto to describe America as the government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

In following years, organizations in various towns came together to commemorate the sacrifice of soldiers by decorating their graves to make sure they were not forgotten. At the close of the 19th century, the efforts of caring individuals grew into a widespread tribute known as Decoration Day. Some southern states still observed the memorial on different dates until after World War I.

Later, Decoration Day came to be known as Memorial Day. The date in May was chosen because it was not associated with the proclamation of any war. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day an official holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day is set aside to revere those who died in battle while serving their country.

How can we pay tribute to our heroes who have given their all to make sure present and future generations live free of tyranny?

Visit memorial battlefields and re-enactments. Historical re-enactments are the closest thing to reality we can experience to learn what happened in times past. While these productions cannot replay the tragedy and horror the loss of life brings, we do get a taste of the sights and sounds of arms firing and the scent of gunpowder in the air.

Pay respects at National Cemeteries. There are 155 national cemeteries across America. If we reside near any one of these hallowed grounds, a visit to regard the sacrifices of those whose bodies lie beneath the grass would be an appropriate way to pay homage on Memorial Day. Many of these gravesites also host museums for visitors to obtain in-depth information about battles fought and heroic acts performed.

Leave the legacy of remembering. Find resources that teach the truth about history to our kids. Without knowledge of why our military needs to encounter enemies, they will not appreciate the freedom we have as Americans. Books and age-appropriate videos of how youth in other countries are forced to live can help them appreciate their toys, games, and food. Some time without a few conveniences and pleasures could help re-enforce the hardship others bear because of lack of freedom.
Visit or send a message to family of a fallen service member. Fallen service members who died long ago may have been forgotten by all but their immediate families. If we know of someone who lost a loved one during hostilities, we could present a memento of their service as a gift to their family. How special this would be to the next of kin to know that someone else respects and treasures the service their loved one gave to our country.

Dignify our National Anthem and Flag. Our flag displays our republic’s character. Thirteen ribbons of color show us the colonies who fought for independence. The red stripes represent hardiness and valor, the white innocence and purity. These are the very virtues soldiers, sailors, and airmen enter battles to defend.

Many fly our red, white, and blue banner all year, but we should especially laud those who died to preserve the meaning of the flag on Memorial Day by being proud to raise the standard. Sadly, parts of the population now disrespect the flag and our national anthem by refusing to stand or salute. But the ironic fact is that the price soldiers paid with their blood in the ground across the world gives these people the right to do so.

Never Forget. Our union’s history is one unlike any other. We were founded upon godly principles. War was fought to preserve the rights given to man in Scripture. We can acknowledge heroic acts all the way back to the Revolutionary War and be re-educated as to the high cost paid to give birth to America. May every grave that houses an American military member, whether at home or abroad, never be left without the gift of gratitude for the most treasured sacrifice. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. (Psalm 33:12)

Barbara Latta is a freelance writer who posts online articles at barbaralatta.blogspot.com.

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