Memorial Day, for many, means the beginning of Summer. To others, it is a day off to shop. But, as I am sure you really know Memorial Day is a day to honor those who have died in the service of this country.
The word “memorial” comes from the Latin Memorare which is in an imperative meaning: “Remember!” So, Memorial Day is “Remember! Day.”
When I go to one of our local military cemeteries (and there are many near DC) one of them has a chapel, and near the window looking out on the graves is a sign that reads: “The Price of Freedom is Made Visible here.” Indeed, it is. And while not all the soldiers and their spouses buried there died in war, all of them were willing to do so, whether by losing their own life, or that of their spouse. When I meet someone new and hear, eventually of their military service my instinct is to say at once, “Thank you for your service.”
I have not served in the military but both my brothers did, one a Navy Pilot, the other an Ari Force Intelligence officer.
My father too was a Navy JAG officer. Upon his return from Viet Nam I could tell he had changed somehow. Later I understood when I saw movies he had filmed while there showing the bullet holes in the wall where he and other officers had escaped sniper fire. I heard too of harrowing flights north in the “Huey,” often under fire, to be with the troops up north who had engaged the V.C.
One of our priests here in DC, long before ordination, was infantry in the terrifying jungles of Viet Nam. He return permanently injured, his knee no longer functional. Others too have served more recently in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other places our troops have deployed. All of them know and can testify, war changes you.
Thus, even those who survived, made many sacrifices and returned with many burdens. Remember, call to mind what they have done. And if you get to go to the shopping center today, or enjoy a nice cookout, or freely travel to the shore, remember those who have helped make this possible.
Yes, this is a day to remember, especially those who did die, who died so that you and I could live with greater security, justice and peace. May these fallen soldiers rest in Peace. Never forget the price others have paid for our freedom. We owe them a debt of gratitude and our prayers.
God bless them all, and may all the dead rest in peace.
The Love of one’s country (Patriotism) is related to the fourth commandment. The Catechism teaches:
It is the duty of citizens to contribute to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. (CCC # 2239)
The Lord himself makes it plain: No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13).
Perhaps you might use this video as a way to meditate on the sacrifices they made. Here the text of the song “Mansions of the Lord” and the video follows:
To fallen soldiers let us sing,
Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing,
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the Mansions of the Lord
No more weeping,
No more fight,
No prayers pleading through the night,
Just Divine embrace,
In the Mansions of the Lord
Where no mothers cry
And no children weep,
We shall stand and guard
Though the angels sleep,
Oh, through the ages safely keep
The Mansions of the Lord
Photo Credit above: The Washington Post