By David Ferguson
Paul wrote in Romans 13:7, "Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor." This is Memorial Day weekend, and in that vein let us, too, give honor to all whom honor is due. Let us remember all of those who have gone before us who have made the ultimate sacrifice in order that we can still have those freedoms we cherish and hold so dear.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, honors those who gave their lives in our nation’s wars. It was shortly following the conclusion of the War Between the States that General John A. Logan inaugurated the holiday in 1868. Citizens began placing flowers on the graves of those who fell in battle, and now the fallen from all wars are commemorated.
While Waterloo, New York was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Baines Johnson in May 1966, it is difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings. The cities and towns that suffered so much loss during those war-torn years that split apart our nation contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in General Logan giving his official proclamation on May 5, 1868. It seems to have been a natural manifestation of our nation’s collective grieving process.
Paul compared our Christian life to that of a soldier: "But I counted it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need…." (Philippians 2:25) And to Timothy he wrote, "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 2:3) He also admonished us as soldiers to put on the whole panoply of God: "Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…." (Ephesians 6:13-17)
As members of the Lord’s army, and citizens of His kingdom, let us also not forget our own fallen ones who have given their lives for the sake of the gospel: Stephen, Paul, Peter, James, etc. But most importantly, do not forget the sacrifice of the One Who made it possible for us to have the hope of eternal life: Jesus Christ.
May God bless you and yours!- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org You may also want to visit the congregation's website at http://lakelandchurchofchrist.web.officelive.com/default.aspx