Memorial Day – More Than Remembrance

#43 memorial collage


The three day weekend is fast approaching. We will remember our heroes through an avalanche of patriotic commercials and emotional photos. The nation will take a short pause to commemorate our fallen on Memorial Day.

Like most major holidays the media inundates us with ads, short video clips and images. The Memorial Day photographs are meant to stimulate patriotism. They will be moving. They will be clean and pretty, leaving us with good feelings which is somewhat perplexing since they represent a very different reality.

In fairness, most difficult life experiences look better when we’re farther away from them.

I’m grateful I’ve never had to watch someone be struck by a bullet or smell the smoke of smoldering flesh. It’s hard to imagine the photos shown on Memorial Day come even close to depicting the devastation they represent.

I wonder how veterans who’ve lived through the real-life experiences of war think of the polished up images we circulate. The disabled vet who sits at the intersection panhandling in our community probably doesn’t have a Twitter account to give his opinion on the issue. He anesthetizes his mind from memories and we anesthetize ours to him as we pass by – even on Memorial Day.

It’s probably safe to assume the general population can’t identify with him. Besides not understanding the trauma of his combat, he’s certainly not airbrushed enough for our applause. Like many, he’s still attached to the umbilical cord of his pain.

Internal wars are just as hard to understand as physical wars. Inner wars bring their own kind of pain, suffering and even death.

As I sit in my comfortable chair plucking my keyboard in hypothetical thoughts, I am challenged with what I can do. How can I serve the wounded. The broken in our villages need to be fed, listened to and truly honored.

The battle-weary soldiers of internal wars are the poor and the brokenhearted spoken of in Isaiah 61. Many people are held prisoners of war right in our own communities, and they are part of us.

The truth is we all would benefit by standing at attention on Memorial Day. We’re all part of a battle and called to fight in a very real war.

Our identity and dignity are contingent upon truly remembering. By ongoing remembrance and involvement. More than a pause – a lingering that initiates action.

I want to be more than moved this Memorial Day. I want to be enlisted into the causes that move my Heavenly Father. I want to take my place on the battlefield of my own community, so maybe one day I’ll hear my commander say, “This one fought the best she knew how. She lingered long enough to act.”

For today – I linger and humbly ask forgiveness for my own lethargy and preoccupation with myself. I willingly yield these unfocussed eyes to open and see opportunity beyond the polished images of the hour.


21 replies on “Memorial Day – More Than Remembrance”

  1. Again Pat, well said. It is true that many a returned veteran is in many respects “dead” to society or “airbrushed” out of our reality on a day-to-day basis. And, that needs to be changed for those of us who seek to reflect Christ-likeness in our daily lives. Being “missional” is the current Christian buzz word to express being the Church rather than doing Church. We not only need to be reminded of the overlooked battle scars of the veteran but also of the millions of others that manage to hide their scars from the battles of life and are overlooked or ignored as we hurry busily from one “important” task to another. Sensitivity and compassion needs to be revived in our lives to include the “unlovely” as well as the “beautiful.”

    Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Armed Forces Day (which we just observed last week) all point us to wars and rumors of wars and heighten our sensitivity to sacrificial giving of their time, talents and lives for their country. However, as you suggest, the war for souls wages daily and we are called into His service with the goal of contending for the faith, comforting, and encouraging all those who are in the battlefield of life.

    1. I appreciate your insight, Louis. Developing sensitivity and compassion toward people in my community is an ongoing challenge for me in the fast-paced world we currently live in. I find myself racing past people with the same shallow approach I use when skimming through my emails. NOT a good thing.

      Thank you for your military service. I honor you for that today.

  2. I just returned from a shopping trip to the mall when I opened your blog post. While I was there I noticed all the sales going on to celebrate Memorial Day weekend and basically the kick-off to summer. I had the same thought about the many veterans who have given their lives for our freedom and wondered what selling lawn furniture had to do with wars and service. I appreciate the remarks above. Lots to think about this weekend. Thank you.

    1. I know – isn’t that a funny observation, Sarah. Since when does commercialism have anything to do with honoring our military? Free to shop and spend, I guess. Thanks for the insight. Blessings to you!

    1. Veterans have definitely lingered and acted – they deserve more respect than I give, that’s for sure.

      Please thank your son for serving, Leah. He’s a hero too :))

  3. I just saw a post that said, “This is Memorial Day – In case you thought it was National BBQ Day”. Made me laugh. Thanks for another great reminder to keep focus on things that matter.

  4. This is part of the reason I think I have become desensitized to holidays like this. The picture perfect images don’t come close to what really happened, what’s really happening. But your words convict me in jus the right way. I can’t let that immobilize me. As a follower of Christ I am part of His body…His hands and feet moving in the earth to bring change, healing and hope in my community and wherever else He leads. Thank you Pat. This is a wake up call and I’m grateful for it.

    1. You have to know how much your words mean to me, Lisha, I have a deep respect for you as a writer and a believer. This post convicted me as well – I had plans of finding Vets to encourage this weekend, or a ministry to support. Instead Christ showed up in the face of an individual I’ve grown tired of serving. The Lord asked me if I could see Him in the person’s face. Needless to say, my battlefield was different than I imagined. He is always faithful to speak and grow us. I love him so much.

  5. Powerful & convicting post, Pat. I shared it on my FB page, tried to link back to you, but not sure if it worked. FB and I don’t always work well together, lol. Have a blessed holiday.

    1. I’m deeply touched by your comment and the fact you shared this post, June. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to bumping into you next week. Blessings.

  6. Pat. I am a retired Army Officer and I appreciate your words of faithfulness. I dodged death in Turkey, when a terrorist knocked on my front door. How? A still small voice told me not to answer it and hide with my son in the closet. He slept in my arms until I felt it was safe to come out. The terrorist moved from my apartment to my friend’s and he six bullets ripped through his face and briefcase. He lived. My commander discovered the terrorist safe house and showed me how they’ve been following me and keeping a record of my routine. Listening to God, obeying and trusting Him is priceless.

    1. What a life-altering, soul-shaping experience for both you and your son. I can’t relate to the scene you shared at all, but I definitely know that kind of guidance. What a gift. You must be a very strong woman to be an army officer and yet I would guess as you sat in that closet you weren’t relying on your own strength. It’s chilling and inspirational to imagine.

      THANK YOU FOR SERVING and thank you for sharing. I’m honored to have your words rest on this humble blog. Bless you, Chris.

  7. Amazing. May I forever remember to stand ready with my armor on. Wielding weapons of truth and yet mercy simultaneously. Love your insight Pat. You have been gifted to help others see God’s very heart.

    1. “Truth and mercy” says my friend with the warrior’s heart. Yes, Jessica!! The daily battlefield looks different for each of us, but the weapons remain the same. Thanks so much for chiming in. Enjoy the sunshine today… and stand ready.

  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Memorial day. There are forgotten people. We need a heart like Jesus had for those who are broken and help where we can. Film makes war look different than it really is for those who saw it. I only imagine how bad it could have been. I’m thankful we didn’t experience it, even though both my husband and I served in the Air Force. You never know when something will happen and then you go. We are soldiers of the Almighty God, doing His work daily. Have a blessed week!

    1. Bless both you and your husband for your faithful service, Becky. I’m thrilled to get to know you and look forward to hearing more from you.

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