Summary: To call attention to the roll of memorials as "memory aids" so that we will reflect and commit to appropriate action.

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The Gift of Memory

Ps 103:1-14

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. All across America there will be the sound of marching feet, band music, and drums. In great cities and small towns, people will gather at a park or cemetery where speeches are given, prayers are said, taps are played, a salute is given, and guns a fired.

Its our way of saying thanks to those who died that we might continue to enjoy our liberties.

From Gettysberg to Berlin, from San Juan Hill to Heartbreak Ridge, from Iwo Jima to Saigon and Desert Storm, come the echoed cries of those who gave the best they had. The blood of American soldiers is permanently mingled with the soil of four continents.

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.

Illus.: Incident at Arlington

When the first Memorial Day 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.

Since WWII, Decoration Day has honored 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.

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