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

decisive victory.

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

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