It’s a fine distinction: Memorial Day is for remembering those who died during war; Veterans Day is to celebrate all of those who have served in our military. Is it okay to celebrate during both special days? Absolutely! We are grateful for both those who died protecting our freedoms, those who served in the past, and those who continue to serve.
The first such remembrance day goes back to May 1, 1865 in Charleston, S.C., at the close of the Civil War. More than 10,000 people joined freed slaves to sing hymns and hear the preaching of the word of God. Together, they memorialized the lives lost in military action. At that point in U.S. history, more people had died in the Civil War than in any other war.
Of course, if you consider today’s ideological war, abortion of the yet-to-be-born remains the most-deadly conflict in our country. In just a half century, the number of innocent lives lost continues to grow past 64 million people. God remembers His children.
Memorial Day hasn’t always been called “Memorial Day.” For a while, it was called “Decoration Day.” It was that time of year when people would clean up and decorate the graves of the fallen. It was not until the Johnson administration that we established a nationally sanctioned Memorial Day in 1968. People used the day to remember those who shed their blood for our freedoms.
There are several ways to celebrate Memorial Day, held on the last Monday of May:
• Attend to the graves of those who died serving in military action;
• Pray for their families who endured hardship at the loss of their loved ones;
• If you served, tell stories about your service, or your friend or family member’s service;
• Explain to the next generation how important it is to remember;
• Put your arm around loved ones and share with them how important our freedoms are and how quickly they can be lost;
• Display the U.S. flag on your property as a sign that you remember and honor those who served;
• Celebrate with others the rights and freedoms we now have because of those who served to defend us.
“The Greatest Spectacle on Earth” is the title given the Indianapolis 500. During the month of May, more than a quarter million people converge on the northwest quadrant of the metro area to watch 33 especially designed cars zip around a tight 2.5-mile oval at more than 200 mph.
In 1996, I attended the Indy 500 as a journalist. I had the honor of interviewing the legendary driver, Johnny Parsons. We sat on a golf cart in the garage area while he told me his story about racing and about his personal surrender to Christ. Fascinating!
The actual race doesn’t occur until Memorial Day weekend. Before the race starts, the family that owns and operates the race track always pauses to remember fallen soldiers and their families. Publicly, they stop all the events and remember. They also express gratitude to God for their personal freedoms. Then they say, “Gentlemen and ladies, start your engines!”
As a nation that spends too much time and energy these days in media consumption and social experimentation, we need to pause in gratitude to our God for our freedoms; remember those whose blood was spilled on the battlefield to protect our freedoms; and guard against subversive people who would destroy our liberties and turn them into licentiousness.
Stewardship and accountability
I am often asked about the mission dollars that leave your local church and go to our state ministries and Southern Baptist Convention ministries. A mighty river starts with a single drop and is combined with other drops to compose an unbelievable mighty force.
A gift to the Cooperative Program starts with a personal gift, or tithe, to a local church. Then, the church gives through the Cooperative Program to the state convention, and the state convention allocates (manages) these funds to send forward to national and international ministries that make up the Southern Baptist family.
Thank you for your personal faithfulness and your church’s combined faithful stewardship of resources for Kingdom purposes. Your state missionaries who serve in the MBC’s business services are meticulously diligent with every gift. We welcome full accounting of our processes. We take seriously the gift of the widow’s mite, as well as the gifts of the Missouri Baptist’s great churches.
We provide a resource to our church leaders through the Stewardship Coach, Mark Brooks (check out StewardshipJournal.com). He challenges every member to be a faithful giver throughout the summer months. With travel and summer events, where people may not be as regular at their local churches, giving has never been easier. You can give through ACH through your bank, or online giving to your local church or the MBC. You can also send a check through the mail.
The important thing to do is give. Give as the Lord has given to you.