The date was October, 1864. The place was a cemetery in the small village of Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. It was there that three young women decided to decorate the graves of some fallen soldiers during the time of the Civil War. Emma Hunter, a young teen-age girl, along with her friend, Sofia Keller placed some garden flowers on the grave of her father, Dr. Reuben Hunter, who had served in the Union Army as a surgeon. At the same time, an older woman by the name of Mrs. Elizabeth Meyer scattered some flowers on the grave of Private Amos Meyer, her son, who died at the Battle of Gettysburg.
The women met each other at the cemetery that day, sharing memories of their loved ones and decorating the two graves with flowers. Little did they know how momentous their act of love and respect would lead to in time. For from then on, this quaint little village of Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, would become known as “the Birthplace of Memorial Day.”
To me, it’s fascinating how holidays like this get started. Just the simple act of remembering, by placing flowers at the graves of brave soldiers, speaks volumes of honor given to them for paying the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Once this kind deed catches on, many others soon join in. It’s a beautiful thing.
This Memorial Day will be no different than it was 152 years ago when three young women met at the graves of soldiers and placed flowers there in their memory. Drive by any cemetery in the nation, whether it’s the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia or an old country cemetery in some back woods location, you will most likely see someone placing flowers, flags, and other memorabilia at the graves of loved ones who served our country.
Honoring our heroes this way genuinely shows the value we place on the lives of those who freely gave for the sake of others. This has a double meaning for Christians. For our Memorial Day is not just as a celebration of patriotism for our country but a celebration of service for God.
The words of Jesus come to mind:
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends…” (John 15:13, New American Standard Bible, NASB).).
Memorial Day stirs up our emotions. To be sure, it raises feelings of sadness. Indeed, those loved ones, who died for their country, are sorely missed by their families and friends. Yet, at the same time, comes a fond remembrance of sacrifice, heroism, bravery, and true love that will never be forgotten and will always bring pride in those who went forth and dutifully serve in such an unselfish way. Just as Jesus pointed out, what greater act of love can one show for one’s friends than to pay such a precious price?
Speaking of Jesus, we can’t help but think of the sacrifice he made on the cross to save us from our sins and to give us the hope of eternal life. We can’t even begin to imagine the suffering he went through to provide us with forgiveness and salvation in the Kingdom Age to come. He is a true Friend that we remember, especially whenever we partake of the communion emblems—the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine—which themselves are memorials to his act of service and love as God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16).
Memorial Day is a time to reflect and remember and yes, even rejoice. For as sacred and humble as it is to lay flowers at the graves of our fallen heroes, it is also a time to praise God and give thanks for the lives of those so honored. For “…weeping may last for a night but joy will come in the morning,” (Psalm 30:5). Jesus will come in great power and glory to resurrect the faithful who’ve fallen in death throughout the ages and then joy will come for all to celebrate forever in God’s Kingdom. http://youtu.be/gpLdrvPHYVg
Happy Memorial Day!
& Good News to YOU!