I love Christmas and Easter. I am grateful for the birth and earthly sacrifice our Heavenly Father rendered that we may spend eternity with Him. But daily there are sacrifices our countrymen are giving that have bought our freedom nationally, and rarely if ever do I see it celebrated in the fashion it deserves.
Memorial Day is one of my favorite holidays. It’s not about the barbecue. It’s not even about the beach or the beer or just another Monday off. Memorial Day is about those who paid the price for our freedom, those precious men and women who served and sacrificed. It is a day to reflect on the ultimate cost of everything that is America. From the first to fall in the making of this great nation (even before the Revolutionary War) and every loss of life since, the price of our freedom has been bought with the blood of those fearless souls who cared more about the future of this great nation than their own lives. They thought about the generations that would come after them and loved those of us that they would never meet enough to leave their loved ones as widows and orphans.
I thought of all the mothers who buried their sons, all the young wives who wore black and had to tell their children about a father they would never meet on this side of heaven. I thought about the incredible bravery it took to step aboard the Mayflower and the bravery it still takes today to enlist under the banner of our great nation and fight like hell for freedoms we have enjoyed — that those coming after you may experience the same blessings.
Gold Star Mothers
Recently at an event I had honoring Gold Star mothers (a mother whose child has died in the service of our military), a local Gold Star Mom explained that before the death of her son, she never recognized the importance of Memorial Day. As the first Memorial Day after the death of her son approached, she became numb realizing that for nearly 50 years she had never stopped to hallow the day that remembered the dead who paid for her freedom. Now her son was buried at Arlington and her neighbors and friends reached out to her and her husband on that last Monday in May. All of a sudden, Memorial Day became very personal. It was a day to honor the sacrifice of her beloved child. What an awakening.
A family tradition
Each year since my oldest, Daly Kay, was a baby, we have attended a local Memorial Day service in honor of our nation’s heroes. Rows of graves marked with flags, a solemn 21 gun salute, the Star Spangled Banner and hundreds of current and retired servicemen in attendance. Each year as they call out the names of our locally fallen heroes or veterans that have slipped into eternity, a moment of silence ensues and hundreds of grateful civilians come to pay their respects. I cry every time.
Many of the retired military servicemen have watched my children grow up. Each year, my children hand out thank you cards and shake hands, personally giving gratitude to as many vets as they can. With every passing holiday, more familiar names are added to the “departed” list. I vow silently to not let their life of sacrifice and service go past me without imbedding the same spirit of patriotism into my own children.
This Memorial Day will mark the 20th year our family has attended the local Riverside Cemetery Memorial Day service. Our family will be remembering those precious souls who gave us this blessed nation at the cost of their lives. Every year the World War II veterans dwindle in number, and as they read the names of the local veterans who slipped into eternity, I pray. I pray those of us left here are found diligently protecting our freedom they purchased. I pray that now, as that great cloud of witnesses from Hebrews 12, these departed veterans look on and are proud of what they see from Heaven’s vantage point. I pray that how we raise our children is a blessing to them, that they look down and smile and believe the sacrifices they made for our families were worth the cost.
Remember that Memorial Day is not about the barbecue, the beach or the beer. It’s about the ones who paid the price that we may enjoy such things. Go to a local cemetery, and give thanks to every grave graced with a flag, to every veteran proudly displaying the name of their ship, their company they fought with or the war in which they served. Bless them and humbly honor them for their service. They carry in their hearts the memories of men you will never know who bled so that you may say such things.
Below I have included my all-time favorite poem “In Flander’s Fields” by John McCrae. I challenge you parents to look up the history of the poem and share it with your children this Memorial Day. And if you’re local, please join us at Riverside Memorial in Tequesta for the service.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Submit a question for consideration in a future issue at GoodNewsFL.org/AskAColumnist. Or visit Lyette Reback’s inspirational parenting website at Believewithme.com where you can find encouragement, hope and real answers for your parenting challenges.