Today’s blog is written by LTC Jason Rowe. Read as he reminds us the importance of remembering those heroes that sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
A Little Memorial Day History
It originated as Decoration Day in the years following the Civil War, and was the annual commemoration in which the graves of the war dead were decorated with flowers. It became an official federal holiday for America in 1971, and is observed on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day is to honor the U.S. military men and women who died while serving in combat. The partial list below comes from the U.S. Veteran’s Affairs casualty data on battle deaths by conflict:
53,402 World War I (1917-1918)
291,557 World War II (1941 –1945)
33,739 Korean War (1950-1953)
47,434 Vietnam War (1964-1975)
148 Persian Gulf War
(Desert Shield/Desert Storm) (1990-1991)
6,900+ Global War on Terrorism (2001 to present)
For some these numbers are more personal. On one of my deployments during a mission I lost an entire helicopter crew. Instantly, 6 wives become widows, and 18 children were fatherless.
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (-James 1:27, NASB)
We are all part of an amazing church body that has a mission to Love God, Love People, and Love Life. We accept challenges all the time to afford God the opportunity to show his grace, mercy, and power. This weekend, can you carry out this mission by recognizing those who’s loved ones died for our freedoms? For my family, no matter where we are stationed, we drive to the nearest National Cemetery to clean up the grounds and place flags. It is a small gesture, but important for us to remember those we have lost in combat. We also reach out to our Gold Star Families to comfort them and share stories of their loved ones lost.
This Memorial Day take a moment during the extra-long weekend to break away from the sale at your favorite store, or your famous BBQ, and pray for the families left behind. Be humble as it is a day to remember military service men and women who died while defending this great nation, and not a celebration or “happy” Memorial Day. It is also not the day for recognizing Veterans (November 11th), or our First Responders (October 28th). While incredibly important, this is not that day. It is the day to reflect on those that lived John 15:13 out to the fullest: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends”
(-John 15:13, NASB).
Thank You for our One Nation Under God. Thank You for those that have laid down their lives for this nation in the service of its military. Lord, encourage us to seek out opportunities to share your love with the widows and children of the fallen. Lord, empower us to emulate your perfect example in your Son, Jesus Christ. Lord we pray you watch over our military and continue to bless the United States of America. In Your Son’s name we pray.