Locations & Times

Don't "Miss" Memorial Day

by John Mehl on May 21, 2024

I wasn't around for the time surrounding the Vietnam War (not trying to make anyone feel old, just stating a personal fact). I can only glean the pressures and complexities that existed in society from those around me who were there, from studying history (which I love to do), and from documentaries and entertainment. 

One thing I do know is that it was a time when great worldwide struggles and conflict turned many people in our country away from supporting the men and women who have fought and died serving our country in the armed forces. I admittedly don't presume to know where the line of right or wrong stands on all of that; I just know that American public opinion was significantly negative towards military personnel. 

I don’t think we live in a time like that today. But I do wonder if some of the great complexities that our country and our world face today have distracted or detoured some of us — myself included here — from truly appreciating the men and women who serve in our country's military forces. Whether that is the case or not from your perspective, since I am writing this reflection around the celebration of Memorial Day in our country, I would like to encourage you to strive not to “miss” Memorial Day. 

Don’t “miss” Memorial Day. Take some time to consider the ways those who have been wounded or killed fighting in our country's military did something most of us have not. Consider how they found themselves in situations where they could not operate by mere ideals but in desperation and dependence on the brothers and sisters around them. These considerations remind me, on a personal level, to commit to recognizing Memorial Day as a time to pause in a reflective way in honor of these heroes. 

I would love to see us take some sort of action of recognition. Maybe it’s thanking a serviceman or servicewoman. Maybe we make a phone call or write an email to someone we know is experiencing Memorial Day by reflecting on their own loss of a military man or woman in their life. Maybe it is sharing a public prayer on social media, asking the Lord to bless and comfort all of those who gave their lives in the service of their fellow man. Or maybe you can come up with something even more tailored to you.

I’m convicted. I might have been someone who intentionally or unintentionally just “missed” Memorial Day. But now, when I think way beyond worldwide complexities and personal philosophies of militarized leadership and corresponding efforts, and I force (or allow) myself to think simply of the humanity of the men and women who have given their lives in service of our country… I find that I can’t miss Memorial Day. I not only have to honor it, I want to honor it. I am compelled to honor them because I am so thankful for the people who stepped forward to serve me and those around me by giving their very lives.

Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13). The implications of this are well beyond casualties in any nation’s armed forces. But I can’t imagine that an underscoring sense of love, fidelity, and friendship is behind the lives you and I can honor this Memorial Day.

At the very least (and I don’t intend to stop here), from my own heart, and on behalf of my family and all of those whom I love, I am grateful for the service and the sacrifice of the men and women of our nation’s armed forces. And I am surpassingly grateful for those who gave it all as a sacrifice for their fellow man.

Previous Page

More from Timberline Church Blog