What do we mean when we say “remember”?
Sometimes we use the word remember to mean take note of—such as when we make a list of things to do. Other times remember means to reminisce—to recall the people, places and experiences of the past to keep important moments clear and fresh in our minds. Remember can mean to convey connection—as when someone says, “Remember me to your family” or “We will remember them in our prayers.”
Perhaps most importantly, remember means to make sure that something is never forgotten. Sometimes things are so important that we must ensure our minds recognize the significance and relevance, regardless of how long ago an event might have happened. This type of remembering brings the past into the present as a vital part of life.
Memorial Day calls us to remember in just these terms—not to reminisce, or to just commemorate, but to remember those who committed themselves to the defense and freedom of our nation in clear and relevant terms. We are called to keep their memory fresh in our minds and to recognize that the ideals for which they struggled and gave their lives are significant and important in this moment, even as they were in the past.
Originating in the years following the Civil War, Memorial Day has been observed in many ways since that defining national conflict in which some 625,000 Americans lost their lives. Since 1900, more than 35 million people have served in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other military engagements. More than half a million of them gave their lives in the cause of freedom—some in battle, some in captivity. On Memorial Day we remember them, with every possible meaning the word carries.
Their service and sacrifice is particularly meaningful given our current troubled times, which include the brutal and high-stakes war in Ukraine and horrific mass shootings such as this week’s tragedy in Uvalde, Texas.
In the face of these challenges, we have a choice to give in to despair or to take action.
Perhaps one of the best ways we can truly remember those who gave their lives to defend the safety and security of our citizens is to heed our vocation to be caregivers, to honor their commitment to defending life by providing the compassionate care that heals and promotes life.
Thank you for joining with me in our Mission to extend God’s care through the ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing. Together, we can answer the call to be stewards of life in fellowship with all those who came before and all those we join today.