Remembering with honor loved ones, veterans
The first use of the word “memorial” in Scripture was used by God when he was calling Moses to deliver the nation of Israel from bondage in Egypt in Exodus 3:15.
Exodus 3:14: “And God said unto Moses, I am that I am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I am hath sent me unto you.”
Exodus 3:15 “And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”
The word “memorial” means “preservative of memory,” which is exactly the purpose of Memorial Day for our nation and the purpose of monuments that mark special places and events throughout our nation and our world.
It has to do with preserving the memory of special people, events and places in our memory so we do not forget the importance of them. The Hebrew word translated “memorial” here means “a memento, a source of recollection which has to do with commemoration.”
We need tangible helps to remind us of things from the past that are truly important. If we forget the people and events that have shaped our lives and our history, then we will lose facts that are critical to our future or even make some of the same mistakes again.
In the Old Testament, God established many feast days to help the people of Israel remember special things that God did for them in their history to help them become a nation of people from Abraham and Sarah, which was God’s promise to them.
Passover is called a memorial of God’s deliverance of his people from Egyptian bondage. God even calls holy days of worship memorials, as well as some of the sacrifices that were offered in worship. When we celebrate the incarnation of Christ in his human birth or the resurrection of Christ from his death and burial, these days are memorials to help us remember the significance of these events to our personal relationship with the holy God of heaven.
May 15 was the Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, which President John F. Kennedy signed into law in 1962. The week is called National Police Week, and it was established to be a recognition by our government of the fallen officers of our nation. Monday is our nation’s Memorial Day, which was established by General John Logan who was the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. It was first celebrated on May 30, 1868.
However, many years prior to that, it had been practiced by folks who would go to the burial sites of departed loved ones to decorate their graves as a memorial of their memory. It was widely practiced during the Civil War for loved ones who died during battle. There is also a National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend in October each year to recognize those who have fallen in the line of duty.
It is important for us to remember our loved ones who have left this earth in death. It is important for us to remember our veterans that faithfully served our country who have died, many of who died in combat.
Monday, there will be Memorial Day services held at several cemeteries in our valley. Summerville Cemetery will host a service at the flagpole at 8 a.m. and there is a service at 11 a.m. at Grandview Cemetery in La Grande at the veterans memorial.
Let me encourage you and your family to celebrate this Memorial Day with more than just a cookout with friends.
Join one of these services of memory or decorate the grave of a loved one and share their history with your children so those who have died are not forgotten from the next generation’s heritage.
Franklin Humber is pastor of Summerville Baptist Church.