Summary: God loves memorial events, for they force our minds to reflect and remember, and this keeps the past alive in the present so that the future can be what He wills.
One of the most important battles in the history of our nation
was won by 262 Minnesotans. It is generally agreed by historians
that he battle of Gettysburg was the turning point that led the
North to win the tragic Civil War. That battle was going badly for
the North, and at one point the Confederates had them in retreat
and they were in hot pursuit. They were only a half mile from a
position where they could cut the union line in half and have a
The only troops who might prevent this were the First
Minnesota Volunteer Regiment. These 262 officers and men were
camped right in the path of the attacking Confederates. They
were out numbered many times over, but when Colonel Covill gave
the order to charge they did so with such force that they stunned
the larger army. They were cut to ribbons, however, and most of
them died. Only 47 survived, but they held the line until
reinforcements arrived and made it possible for the North to
finally win that battle that led to the winning of the war. General
Hancock, who was there, said of this sacrifice on July 2, 1863,
"There is no more gallant deed recorded in history."
I discovered this bit of history in the book 101 Best Stories Of
Minnesota by Merile Potter. It made me realize that we cannot
remember what we have never known. Just as you cannot go back
to where you have never been, so you cannot remember what you
never forgot because you never knew it. I never liked history as a
student, and it is a shame that so many students feel this way. It
should be one of the most exciting classes in school.
God made history a required course for His people, and then
gave memorials to make sure they never forgot their history, and
the grace of God that made them a people. Everything they were,
and all they had, was because of events of the past. The
deliverance out of Egypt was the beginning of Israel as an
independent people. They owed their existence and survival to the
Passover when God judged Egypt and set them free. God felt it
was so important that every generation of Israel remember this
event that He established a memorial feast of the Passover, and it
was so important that the people observed this memorial in every
detail that God gave severe laws to excommunicate anyone who
treated them lightly.
In Esther 6:1 we read where the king could not sleep and
ordered the record book of his reign to be read to him. In so doing
he was reminded of the heroic deed of Mordecai the Jew, and
because of that memory being restored by that record the entire
race of Jews was saved from the conspiracy of Haman to destroy
them. They were saved by the power of memory. The Bible makes
it clear that God loves memorial events, for they force our minds
to reflect and remember, and this keeps the past alive in the
present so that the future can be what He wills.
That is why Jesus left the church only one event to remember
Him by. It is a memorial service that we call communion, and by
which we remember that His death on the cross is the foundation
for all we have as Christians in time and eternity. Do this in
remembrance of me Jesus said because He knew the power of
memory and the importance of having roots in the past.
Memorial Day has never had a great deal of meaning for me. I
have had many members of my family in the armed services, and
an uncle who won the purple heart, and who was a prisoner of war.
I've never lost a loved one in war, and so I have never been a part
of a family who went to the cemetery to place flowers or a wreath
on the grave of one who died for our country. It use to be called
Decoration Day for that is what families did for loved ones who
died in service.
Even those who had such graves to visit began to lose interest.
Theodore Ferris, who was pastor of the historic Trinity Church of
Boston, had a long family tradition of doing this. His grandmother
said, "When I am gone nobody will continue this," but his mother
did all her life. But when his mother died, he reasoned that his
loved ones were not in the cemetery and so he let the tradition die.
My point is, Memorial Day for the majority of people is more a
day for making new memories of a great weekend of fun and travel
rather than a day of remembering the past and the sacrifices that