Summary: A Memorial Day Sermon to challenge us to remember our fallen soldiers and remember God and his blessings.
Lanier Christian Church
May 27, 2018
(My thanks to Bruce Howell for the outline and some illustrations for this message)
Remember! SLIDE #1
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Tomorrow marks the national observance of Memorial Day. It’s our way of saying thanks to those who died that we might continue to enjoy our liberties.
From Gettysburg to Chickamauga; from Normandy to Iwo Jima; From Korea to Vietnam, from Afghanistan to Iraq…our soldiers have given their all. The blood of American soldiers is permanently mingled with the soil of countries all over the world.
Memorial Day or Decoration Day emerged from the shadows of the Civil War. In 1865, days after General Robert E Lee surrendered, a group of women in Vicksburg, Mississippi decorated the graves of the war dead. Three years later, May 30 was set aside for the placing of flowers on soldier’s graves throughout America.
The northern version of the day says it began on May 5, 1866, in Waterloo, NY when flowers were placed on the graves of union soldiers, and Waterloo has been recognized by Congress as the official birthplace of Memorial Day. In 1868, Gen. John A. Logan, then president of the Grand Army of the Republic, declared that May 30 would be a day to decorate with “flowers the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”
When one of the first Memorial Days was celebrated, a group of women from Washington D.C. asked the War Department for permission to put flowers on the soldiers’ graves at Arlington Cemetery. After a lot of haggling, permission was finally granted to do so. But a stern order was attached to the permission. No flowers were to be placed on the graves of the Confederate soldiers who were buried in a segregated section of the cemetery. The ladies carried out their task, careful to follow these instructions. Then General James Garfield made a speech. When the crowds left, a strong wind arose. The wind blew almost all the flowers into the Confederate section. After that the separation was never repeated. Many believed that all this was due to divine intervention.
Memorial Day honors the fallen dead of all our wars. We ought to honor those heroes of the past and remember that their lives were sacrificed for our freedom.
Memorial Day is all about REMEMBERING. And yet we do forget! Even important things gradually fade away. That’s one reason why we have days set aside like Memorial Day. They’re memory aids. We need them so that we will not forget those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
We have memory aids all around us here in Gainesville to commemorate certain people and events:
Bridges – the one here near the church first named after Sidney Lanier, the poet, later named after Jerry Jackson, the state representative.
Buildings – like Pearce auditorium at Brenau named after the early President of the College
Museums – like the North Georgia Museum downtown, that includes a house belonging to Whitepath, a Cherokee Indian leader.
Statues – like that of the Confederate soldier, old Joe on the downtown square.
Monuments – like that honoring George Washington, at the corner of Washington Street and Green Street (Suntrust)
Tombstones – like that of General Longstreet, Robert E. Lee’s “old warhorse” – his right hand man, buried in Alta Vista Cemetery.
Then we have books, Scrapbooks, videos, photo albums, and personal memorabilia to remind us of our family and our heritage.
We are so quick to forget; that’s why monuments are important and necessary. But do you know what is even more disturbing than forgetting our heritage and freedom’s price? It’s forgetting HOW MUCH WE OWE TO GOD! Each Sunday is really a kind of memorial day—a day to remind us of God’s love and kindness to us.