Sadly, I believe the traditional observance of Memorial
Day has diminished over the years. At one time, it was a day set aside
for the nation to gather together, to remember, to reflect and to honor
those who have given their all in service to their country.
The graves of fallen soldiers that were once draped with
flowers are now neglected. The flags that once followed the proper
etiquette of Memorial Day (flown at half staff until noon, then raised
to full staff) are now ignored. Cities that held parades and assembled
to honor their lost sons and daughters no longer weep or mourn.
It’s been decades since the meaning of Memorial Day was
practiced by most Americans. Unfortunately, it has become merely a three
day weekend. It is an opportunity to go camping, four-wheeling, or to
have family reunions. The day that was set aside to remember is easily
There are a few notable exceptions. I am aware of 1,200
soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry who place small American flags at each
of the 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. These men
have not forgotten. They patrol 24-hours a day during the entire weekend
just to ensure that each flag remains standing. Thank you soldiers for
remembering. If only more would see your example and follow your lead.
In 2000, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution
was passed, which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, Americans “voluntarily
and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and
respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or
listening to ‘Taps’.”
Thus, the sacred spirit of Memorial Day has turned into
a minute of remembrance. Yes, it is a step in the right direction, but
it also speaks of the apathy and short attention spans of our citizens.
Could it be that a nonchalant observance of Memorial Day is better than
not observing it at all?
This Memorial Day, I challenge you to give more than a
minute of your day to remember. I ask that you stop and honor the fallen
for more than mere moments. Those who you are sacrificing 60 seconds to
mourn have sacrificed everything for you. I believe they deserve all of
America’s attention, all of our respect, and all of our thanks.
I have sat by the graveside of warriors that died on the
battlefield. I have seen the sadness in the eyes of the young widow who
lost her beloved in a foreign land. I have heard the playing of “Taps”
as the young infantryman was laid to rest beside his brothers. The
following letter is one I wrote to my family while Andy served in Iraq.
Though personal, I share it because it changed me.
To My Dearest Family,
As promised, I am keeping you all updated
on the news from Andy and the Charlie Co. in Iraq. As far as the news
A fellow wolfhound came home today with wounds that will
never heal and another came home to be buried. I went to the memorial
service for Cpl. Fraise. He was killed fighting a war that many believe
is over or should be. He was a young man with a young wife and a new
baby of only six months.
I was truly stunned by the ugly face of war seen in the
death of a daddy and husband. The service broke my heart as they read
letters from him to his baby girl and lovely wife. Tears fell as he
spoke of Christ in them, and I am certain that he wasn’t only a soldier
of the U.S. Army, but a soldier of the Lord. It seems so unfair that
freedom must cost so much, and that the price is being paid daily by
soldiers like Cpl. Fraise.
Don’t let your eyes close tonight before you thank God
for the freedom you have and those willing to pay the price for you.
And, most importantly, thank Him who died too for your freedom that you
might spend eternity in His mansions.
War is cruel and death is not choosy, but I know that
because of Jesus I will someday get to shake Cpl. Fraise’s hand and
thank him for his service to our country and to me.
I hope this letter finds you all well. Please pray for
all of our service men and women in all the branches of the military and
pray for their families, as the sacrifices that are made daily are
enormous and sometimes unthinkable. Pray too for the family of Cpl.
Fraise. They are heavy on my heart as they have seen the reality of war
this week. I never thought that I would be sitting in a church full of
strangers crying over a man I never met and yet feeling as if all those
around me were my family in an unexplainable way. I am thankful to be
Andy’s wife, and I would be proud of him no matter what occupation he
had chosen, but, he’s a soldier, he’s a wolfhound, he’s infantry, and he
will lead the way. I love you all and miss you much.