“How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!” II Samuel 1:25a
A day for remembering … so many fallen soldiers. Wars fought for freedom, wars fought for other reasons. Some reasons are not understandable in my mind, some are. But, no matter the reason, my heart is heavy for the many who have died in battle, and the many who have died months and years later from battle wounds. I think of the many who have died from battle scars, physical, emotional, psychological, who suffer with them year after year. They are remembered today.
The history of Memorial Day may reach back to 1868, when General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic declared May 30 of that year to be “Decoration Day,” for, in his words, “the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”
On that first Decoration Day the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers were covered with flowers at Arlington National Cemetery. Congressman (soon to be President) James A. Garfield attended along with many others from the Washington, D.C. political arena. They decorated the graves with flowers… a sign of remembrance and honor, I believe. In 1971, federal law changed the observance of the holiday to the last Monday in May and extended it to honor all those who died in American wars. Today, we decorate with a flag at Arlington and other cemeteries, calling it Memorial Day.
Look at the vast number of graves just in this one scene at Arlington. On Arlington National Cemetery’s website, words cause me to reflect: “Laying our Nation’s veterans and their eligible family members to rest with honor and respect, while treating their loved ones with dignity and compassion, is the cornerstone of Arlington National Cemetery’s mission.”
My father is buried there. He died in 1960 after serving in the South Pacific in WWII as a medical doctor, followed by being a Radiological Safety Officer with the Manhattan Project, a doctor, Chief of Medicine at Naval Hospital/Corona, CA, plus many other areas of service with the U.S. Navy. He was proud to serve. My Daddy was only 46 years of age when he died…I was only 12. He was stationed In Washington, DC, at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery when he became ill with pancreatic cancer. I have always been proud of my father and so very in love with him. I miss him even after all of these years. (My Daddy’s grave is down this hill to the left, if my memory serves me correctly. We will be returning here soon as my mother passed away January 30, 2013 and will be buried with her husband of twenty years, my father. She never remarried and wanted to be buried with her Ralph. We will honor her wishes and await a call from Arlington to schedule that date.)
So many have fallen to the angers of war. May we remember them for their bravery, their love of country, even for the fears that encircled them as they fought and dealt with the ravages of war. May we remember the ones who returned from Vietnam, are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who need our prayers to recover from the sights and fears, the physical and emotional wounds that they have experienced while serving the USA.
My dear husband, Kenneth, served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division. He made it home. I have been blessed to have been given him for my husband and am thankful that he made it home…
for many did not…
“The grounds of Arlington National Cemetery honor those who have served our nation by providing a sense of beauty and peace for our guests. The rolling green hills are dotted with trees that are hundreds of years in age and complement the gardens found throughout the 624 acres of the cemetery. This impressive landscape serves as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of every individual laid to rest within the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.”
LORD, protect each soldier who is on foreign soil this very day. Hold him or her close to Your heart, that they would know Your love and protection. I pray for Your legions of angels around each one to protect and encourage them. I ask You to bring them home safely. I also pray, LORD, for those who serve right here in the USA who protect our country in ways we don’t even know or realize. They are in harms way too. Guard the families of our military as they support and love their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, as they pray for them, as they miss their loved ones. Guide our Commander-in-Chief, the officers, and all of those who assist President Obama in military decision making. Give them wisdom and assurance that You are the One, the Only One, Who is truly in control. You are the Strong Tower. LORD, I ask for peace in this world, for the children and the generations to come, for us here today, if that be Your will. I ask all in the Strong Name of Jesus. Amen