Being a deep thinker (those of you who happen to know me well stop laughing – this is serious), I’ve been thinking a lot about Memorial Day lately. This led to an interesting discussion with some good friends this past Sunday. One of the guys in the circle offered the origin of what we in these United States commemorated this past weekend.
It all started soon after the Civil War (always thought this to be a very odd name for a war). Anyway, it was originally referred to as Decoration Day, where family and community members would decorate the graves of those who died in the “War Between the States”. Various states and regions of the country observed the tradition at different times until after World War I when the tradition expanded to honor the WWI dead. Finally, in the National Holiday Act of 1971 the day was formalized by Congress to be commemorated on the last Monday of May to honor all of our fallen heroes. I think it is an awesome tradition.
As I continued thinking about this I was struck by the similarity of this tradition to something I remembered reading about the Old Testament Israelis. They would occasionally memorialize significant dates and events. One of the most significant was in Joshua Chapter 4 when they erected a stack of 12 uncut stones (one for each of the 12 tribes of Israel) to memorialize God’s act of stopping the flow of the Jordan River and leading them to cross into the Promised Land on dry land. The scripture specifically says the purpose of this “memorial” was so that when subsequent generations of children asked about this memorial, they would be reminded of how God had supernaturally intervened on behalf of the nation of Israel.
As I thought about this, I was struck by the fact that we Americans typically do a poor job of remembering, much less honoring our past. We tend to be focused on the present day or perhaps the future, and give little value to the past – a pity.
We in the church are no different. As our discussion this past Sunday evolved, it found its way around to our own faith stories and whether or not our own children even knew the story of how we came to faith. My resolve is that very soon I plan to make sure my children know more about my story, and consequently their own.
I think this is important. What do you think?
TJM Leadership Team