“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
In observance of this Memorial Day weekend, St. John’s disciple Ray Boosinger wrote the following reflection, inviting us to experience its true meaning. Ray is a retired Air Force officer and a member of our Military Ministry Team. Thank you to Ray and to all the disciples at St. John’s, both past and present, who have served our country so courageously.
A Time to Remember, Reconnect and Rekindle Relationships with God and One Another
When you think about Memorial Day, what is the first thing that comes to mind: perhaps the Indy 500, a day off from work and a long weekend, or maybe a time to remember the passing of loved ones with emphasis on those who served in the military? While all of these may be good, the origin of Memorial Day is traced to our Civil War as a time for family and friends to gather at cemeteries to decorate the graves of loved ones who perished in our nation’s bloodiest war. These gatherings occurred in the warm days of Spring when flowers were in bloom for decorating graves, thus the original name Decoration Day. But Decoration Day was more than this. In addition to paying respect for lives lost, it was a time to remember and reminisce about lives well lived. It was a time to reconnect. Large gatherings with potlucks at family and church cemeteries were common where they laughed together, cried together, and prayed together. Our nation had suffered a staggeringly brutal war and needed healing that none other than God could provide. So, they prayed together, they reconnected, they rekindled relationships with each other and God.
It would be easy for us to overlook the enormity of effort required for those early Decoration Day reunions. They had no cars or paved roads, so travel was by foot, horse and buggy, train or boat. They had no refrigerators, no modern cooking appliances, and few ways to preserve the day’s food. Overnight trips usually meant sleeping arrangements were at best, difficult. Weather forecasts consisted of looking to the sky for clues, so spring rains and storms compounded travel challenges. Despite all this, they gathered, they remembered, they reconnected, they rekindled relationships and they prayed.
Fast forward to the post WW II era, the name Decoration Day evolved into Memorial Day. In 1971 Congress moved the date for celebrating Memorial Day to the last Monday in May making it more convenient for people to enjoy a 3-day weekend. This Memorial Day, try setting aside time to remember and honor those who gave their full measure of life to support and defend our Constitution, and our way of life. None did so intending to die, but all did so accepting that risk on our behalf. For a rewarding experience, drive to Camp Butler and walk among the graves of heroes who can no longer walk with us. Magnify your experience by doing this with family and friends by reconnecting and rekindling relationships. And most of all, thank God for your loved ones and pray for peace.