Today is Memorial Day! Well, at least it was up until 1970, then they changed it to the last Monday of May.
However, Wilmington has always honored our fallen soldiers and their sacrifice on May 30th with the longest running Memorial Day Parade, from the first in 1868 and tonight will be the 151st. Rain or shine.
While this is a quaint way to kick off our official summer festivities, it is also a somber day for those that gave their lives in service to this nation. Today is not to be confused with Veterans Day - when we recognize those that served - today is a day we remember those that have, through their service, given the ultimate sacrifice.
War has been one of the ugliest plagues on humankind throughout history. The Bible alone talks about awful battles and how war can ravage communities and people. In our own time we have seen more wars than we have seen peace. Growing up I do not think I could find someone that did not have a grandparent that served during World War II or a father that served in Vietnam.
My paternal great-grandfather had an older brother that served in World War I, both my grandfathers served in World War II, and my father served during the Vietnam War.
They carry stories and memories of those that were not able to come back home.
We cannot forget that each person remembered today was a spouse, a sister or brother, daughter or son, beloved parent or friend. We don’t honor or worship war, we honor them.
Jesus came so we might have freedom and peace. Jesus taught us that it is in loving and reconciliation that we can truly find lasting and perpetual peace. Should we ever achieve the greatest honor for those that fell on the fields of war, it would rest in an achieved peace and a world without war. I have yet to meet a living soldier or veteran that would prefer war over peace.
Isaiah reminds us that we will be judged by a God that demands love and compassion above all things, and it is my prayer that we can work towards the achievement of a time when “they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
Hope tells us that we are destined for a better world. Wisdom tells us that there is a time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes). Faith tells us that in Christ all is possible.
May those that sacrificed their lives rest with the saints in glory and rise to a kingdom where pain and suffering and war are no more. Only peace and love of a God that has created and loves each and every one of us. May those that mourn the loss of a loved one be comforted by the holy angels of God and by each of us that surround them this day.
Yours in Christ,