Monday, May 29, 2023

Memorial Day--A Day To Remember

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Memorial Day in America, as an annual observance, can be traced back to the end of the Civil War, a war in which over a half-million died for the principle of freedom---a man cannot own another man.

Southern women scattered spring flowers on the graves of both Northern Union and Southern Confederate soldiers.

Memorial Day is much more than the beginning of summer.

Some thoughts on faith, freedom, and sacrifice.

Be Informed.

Some of the following are taken from the outstanding research of William Federer

A time to be grateful

Many places claimed to have held the original Memorial Day, such as:

Warrenton, Virginia;

Columbus, Georgia;

Savannah, Georgia;

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania;

Boalsburg, Pennsylvania;

Waterloo, New York.

One such place was Charleston, South Carolina, where a mass grave was uncovered of 257 Union soldiers who had died in a prison camp.

On May 1, 1865, former slaves organized a parade led by 2,800 singing black children, in which they prayed, read Bible verses, sang spirituals, and reburied the soldiers with honor as an act of gratefulness for their ultimate sacrifice, which gave them freedom.

In 1868, General John A. Logan, commander of the Civil War veterans' organization "The Grand Army of the Republic," called for a Decoration Day to be observed annually on May 30. 

President James Garfield's only executive order was in 1881, where he gave government workers May 30th off so they could decorate the graves of those who died in the Civil War.

In 1921, President Warren Harding had the remains of an unknown soldier killed in France during World War I buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery.

Inscribed on the Tomb is the phrase:


Despite the many distinguished and revered war heroes and two former U.S. Presidents buried there, there is nowhere within the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery that is more frequented by visitors than The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Located on a hill on high ground at almost the perfect geographic center of the cemetery, the tomb exemplifies valor and honor by remembering those who died committing brave and selfless acts with no one to bear witness to them. 

Since 1921, it has been the tradition for presidents to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In 1968, one hundred years after the first observance, Memorial Day was moved to the last Monday in May.

A time to pray.

On June 6, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt offered a D-Day Prayer, which is now part of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.:

My fellow Americans: ... I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God, Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization ...

Give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces ...

We know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph ...

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

A time to memorialize.

Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary stated in its definition of "MEMORIAL":

That which preserves the memory of something ... A monument is a memorial of a deceased person, or of an event.

 The Lord's supper is a memorial of the death and sufferings of Christ.

Memorials are important in Scripture. The Lord told Moses in Exodus 12: 

Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel.

On the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house ... Your lamb shall be without blemish ... And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day ... and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses ... For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and ... execute judgment ... and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you.

And this day shall be unto you for a MEMORIAL ... throughout your generations ... an ordinance forever.

Memorial is mentioned in Joshua, chapter 4:  "When all the people were clean passed over Jordan ... Joshua called the twelve men ... out of every tribe ...

And Joshua said unto them:

Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder ...... That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan ... and these stones shall be for a MEMORIAL unto the children of Israel forever.

In his Memorial Day Address, May 31, 1923, President Calvin Coolidge said: "Settlers came here from mixed motives." Generally defined, they were seeking a broader freedom.

They were intent on establishing a Christian commonwealth following the principle of self-government.

It has been said that "God sifted the nations that He might send choice grain into the wilderness."

Coolidge was citing an Election Sermon given in Boston, on April 29, 1669, by Massachusetts Governor Judge William Stoughton, who described the Puritans fleeing persecution in England to settle in the New World:

"God sifted a whole nation that he might send choice grain over into this wilderness."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used a similar line in his classic Courtship of Miles Standish:

"God had sifted three kingdoms to find the wheat for this planting."


Remember those who gave their all to protect and defend our God-given rights and freedoms.

Remember, America is an "exceptional" nation founded on biblical principles and ideals.

President Calvin Coolidge stated on May 31, 1923, in the conclusion of a speech about our Founders and religious leaders:

"They had a genius for organized society on the foundations of piety, righteousness, liberty, and obedience of the law ...
Who can fail to see in it the hand of destiny? Who can doubt that it has been guided by a Divine Providence?"
Have a great Memorial Day...and Remember.

Be Grateful. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.