Today is Memorial Day here in the US. The holiday, formerly known as Decoration Day, is a day that we honor the war dead, those who gave their lives while serving our country.
In 1868, only three short years after the Civil War ended, Maj. Gen. John A. Logan established Decoration Day as a day to visit the graves of those who died during that conflict. In his order to decorate the graves with flowers, he said:
“We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
Like many of those in law enforcement, I also served in the military. As I grow older I look back on my memories of those I served with, with fondness. I was fortunate to serve in the US Navy during peacetime. Yet, even then, there were a few that I served with who lost their lives while serving. The military can be a dangerous business, even in peacetime.
For those serving during times of conflict, the memories of those who now lie in repose under headstones inscribed in testament to their service are all the more bittersweet. For those who soldier on, and those families who are left behind, the consequences of that sacrifice are life altering. While those who gave their lives may not have realized it at the time, their sacrifice shows the truth of the Biblical illumination:
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” - John 15:13 ESV
Those whose sacrifice demonstrates this truth deserve our remembrance especially on this day. We owe them so much.