Memorial Day with its poppies is a beloved classic nationwide. For some, Memorial Day represents cookout feasts and parties kicking off the unofficial summer season. For others, the day is a more solemn time to remember the courageous military men and women who died in service to our country. Originally, established as Decoration Day in the years following the Civil War, Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Some of my favorite memories of Memorial Day are from my childhood years selling red crepe paper poppies on behalf of my hometown’s American Legion Auxiliary, serving veterans, military members, and their families. If I recall, we sold the red poppies for just a dime, but people would often hand me adollar or a five to help support the local veterans groups.
I also remember as an adult traveling back home to Nebraska at the end of May. On the morning of Memorial Day, I’d join my dad, a WWII veteran, and several of his veteran buddies in traveling around to rural cemeteries for a tribute to soldiers who died during their military service. I am still moved by the scene of these elderly men standing at attention graveside and firing off their rifles in an honorary gun salute.
The Stillness of Remembering
It is soul stirring to pay heartfelt respect to those who have gone before us. Some of the richest times we’ll ever experience come when we step away from the whirlwind of life long enough to rest in the stillness of remembering.
This week I ran across a story highlighting the opposite of fond remembrances. Back in ancient Israel, a 32-year-old prince named Jehoram became king when his father, King Jehoshaphat, died. Once Jehoram settled into his leadership role, he ordered his six brothers and several government officials killed. How dreadful!
As I read of Jehoram’s evil exploits and his penchant for leading his people astray, I could almost hear a round of “boo, hiss” in my ears. This dude was dastardly. Here is what surprised me most about Jehoram’s life. The Bible’s 2 Chronicles 20:21 (NIV) states, “He passed away, to no one’s regret . . . .”
To no one’s regret. Those four simple words are packed with such significance. No one cared if Jehoram died. Other Scripture versions translate this verse as “he died unmourned” and “there were no tears shed when he died—it was good riddance!”
Making Our Lives Count
How sad. No one was sorry to see Jehoram leave this earth. Not even the mailman or the trash truck guys. Not a single person on the planet dabbed at a tear of sorrow on behalf of Jehoram.
This king’s story got me thinking. How will others respond when I pass on? Am I living the kind of life today that will garner the regret and tears of others when I am gone? Or, am I creating a legacy now that will someday leave me “unmourned”?
May it never be . . . for any of us. Let’s keep making our lives count to the loved ones in our lives and to the community and world around us. Maybe that’s selling paper poppies or donating to charitable causes. Or maybe it’s this Memorial Day bowing our heads in respect to the men and women in our U.S. military who have sacrificed themselves for our freedoms. May we all live lives that are truly mourned and forever appreciated.
I would be quite sad and I would remember you and find creative and poignant ways to honor you and to keep your memory alive, year after year after year.
Since I was never blessed to have children, I sometimes find myself wondering.
This week, I saw B&W photos of Jewish victims of The Holocaust.
There were starved men crowded on bunkbeds, women and children ordered to gas chambers, bones in ovens, naked dead bodies of many who were shot with bodies piled on bodies in massive ditches, and many more old photos.
I remember many such photos when I visited the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem in 2008.
These Jewish physicians, bankers, and clock makers, etc, had caved to the pressure and given in to the “orders” and (like compliant “sheeple”) had walked onto those crowded trains bound for the death and concentration camps.
Many of these innocent, fearful, and good, noble people were never heard from nor ever seen again.
They never received a funeral service or a celebration of life, but multiple thousands died with all their human dignity stripped away from them.
It remains a horrific atrocity.
So, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that even though a celebration of my Life would be potentially meaningful, what really matters to me is where am I going.
I know my eternal destination and at almost 58 years old, I am not afraid of death … because I KNOW.
In the meantime, I will seek each day to HONOR my precious Lord Jesus with what I say and do … AND … I will endeavor yo HONOR other people.
Thank you Beth.
It’s a joy to HONOR YOU.
Thank you, Dorease, for sharing about how so many in our world do not get much-deserved remembrances once they’ve passed. I appreciate your words on what really matters is where we are heading once we leave this earth. Bless you for honoring me and so many others now while we are still living.
I have sweet memories of you both. You brought joy to my life when I needed it most not just a doll sale but true joy.
You girls are precious to me,
Awwwww…Char, this is so kind of you. I remember meeting you at your show in Pueblo. You are so talented and I love your caring and encouraging nature. Thank you for being YOU!
I would definitely miss you and honor you, Beth! Thank you for this poignant reminder going into the weekend. Gratefully remembering is what matters most!
Nancy, I would miss and honor you too. I appreciate and salute your “gratefully remembering is what matters most.”