by Henry T. Blackaby Return to Articles

In every generation wars are neither desired nor welcomed. We are devastatingly reminded again and again that pain, death and destruction are always left in their wake.

And yet, throughout our nation’s history from the very beginning of its birth wars have been necessary to fight for, secure and maintain the precious freedoms endowed by God that all of us share. And it is not for our freedoms alone that we continue to fight, but for the freedom of those around the world as well.

Memorial Day was first observed as Decoration Day on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Civil War soldiers. Following World War I the observance was set aside to honor the fallen heroes of all American wars. In 1971 the National Holidays Act, passed by Congress, took effect, making Memorial Day into a three-day weekend. I am saddened to see, however, that through the years that have followed it has become somewhat less a day of remembrance and more a day of holiday and celebration. Like Christmas, many have forgotten the history and true meaning of the day.

The Scriptures assure us in John 15:13 that there is no greater love “than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Our American heroes have laid down their lives in an act of ultimate sacrifice and love for their fellow comrades, their family and friends, and their country. To those and their families let us say in one accord, “God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love” (Hebrews 6:10a). And neither shall we!

Even as we enjoy incredible freedoms this Memorial Day, we must also choose to deliberately make mention of them to each other, our children and our grandchildren. Remember America’s fallen by remembering to observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time on Monday, May 26. Remind your family and friends, your co-workers and your church to take a moment and pray a prayer of thanksgiving and remembrance. May it truly be a sacred time of honor.

I also ask that you commit to pray daily in the year ahead for those who are currently serving and in harm’s way. Many continue to lay down their life while others are returning from overseas with severe injuries and trauma. Pray also for our commander-in-chief and the generals that lead our troops.

We, as Christian citizens, must dedicate ourselves to pray for God’s presence, strength, courage and safety in the lives of our military personnel and their families. Let us never forget their enduring service and their labors of love for us.

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