As you can see by all the evidence about us we are heading into Memorial Day weekend. For some, this time of year heralds the beginning of summer and all the events related thereto. For others it is time off work that is used for family gatherings, cook-outs and such. For those in the retail business it is a time for Memorial Day sales to pull in customers. And while all of these are fine in their own right, I wonder how many of us think about the real reason we have a national Memorial Day.
This is not intended to be a history lesson, but in brief, Memorial Day was originally established to honor those who had lost their lives in the Civil War. Eventually it became a holiday to honor all soldiers who lost their lives in service to our country and is still celebrated for that reason. I have always had an appreciation for those who are willing to put their lives on the line for our country. But that appreciation grew exponentially a few years ago when I visited Arlington National Cemetery.
We were in Washington D.C. for a couple of days and visited as many of the fascinating places as we could. But to me, nothing was as captivating as Arlington. We visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and witnessed the Changing of the Guard which is truly a somber and moving experience. But one of the things that caught me off-guard about Arlington was its size. Even though I had heard about this national cemetery all my life, somehow I had overlooked the fact that it takes up 624 acres of grave after grave after grave. To think that so many (and a whole lot more) had paid the ultimate price for the freedoms and privileges that you and I enjoy daily is a humbling thought indeed. And what a debt of gratitude is due to each one of them!
Standing in the midst of tombstones that seemed endless in all directions and pondering that thought, my mind soon gravitated to the price that was paid for our spiritual liberty by the Son of God. Jesus was willing to undergo the atrocities of a Roman execution that ended with crucifixion so that you and I might be set free from sin and have the hope of eternal life in heaven (cf. Ephesians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21 et al.).
For that we should be especially humbled and our hearts overflowing with gratitude! Shouldn’t we also have a “Memorial Day” for Him? We do- - each first day of the week (cf. Matthew 26:28f; 1 Corinthians 11:23f).