Memorial Day, A Day Late
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Yesterday we celebrated Memorial Day. It is an American holiday observed to honor and remember members of our armed services who have died in battle. The observance on the last Monday of May began after the Civil War and officially became a federal holiday in 1971. As I see all the flags on graves at Arlington Cemetery, I am suddenly deeply moved. I have heard that the observance began with women putting flowers on the graves of solders on both sides of the Civil War Conflict where over 600000 men died.
Both my husband and I have had members of our family serving in both great wars, and my husband served in the Navy in Vietnam. We have not known of family members who have been injured or died.
I cannot imagine what it must be like to have a friend or a family member die during a military action. This is the great sacrifice for our country. This is a sacrifice for the one who died but also a sacrifice for those left behind who loved and needed their presence. I say prayers for those who died and those whose lives have been changed by their absence.
Sacrifice is not a word I often think about. Whenever I visit the National Cathedral, I try to find the stained-glass window remembering the Dorchester Chaplains, Lieutenants George Fox (Methodist), Alexander Goode (Jewish), Clark Poling (Reformed) and John Washington (Roman Catholic). They were chaplains aboard the U.S. transport ship Dorchester on a mission to Greenland in 1943 with 900 men when a German U-boat fired torpedoes and sank it. The chaplains organized the evacuation effort, got men into lifeboats, handed out life jackets and, when those ran out, gave their own to other soldiers. The last anyone saw of them, they had linked arms on deck to pray.
For the rest of the time I have, I hope to remember on each Memorial Day at least one person and his or her family who has died in the wars. I would love to hear your stories of those you remember that have made an impact on your lives.
We must continue to remember the great cost of war as we persist in remembering these great losses.