There is a dear Brother in our church who is celebrating his birthday today. I teased him at church on Sunday that the nation called a holiday to celebrate his birthday. He laughed about it and we enjoyed some good ribbing at the Men’s Breakfast. As I began to think on that incident I came to realize that we may take Memorial Day a little too much for granted. As I enjoyed the final laps of the World 600 I realized that we would not enjoy these freedoms without the freedom that surrounded that NASCAR event. Do you realize that at the beginning of each NASCAR race they have a prayer prayed by some local pastor. As a matter of fact the Daytona 500 was opened in prayer by one of our own Southern Baptist Pastors, Dr. David Uth, of First Baptist Orlando. At Sunday’s World 600 Dr. James Dobson delivered the opening prayer. What a great freedom and it is celebrated without embarrassment. Though some may not like this opening prayer, this freedom could not be celebrated without the sacrifice of our forefathers.
President Abraham Lincoln recognized there was a need to help mend the battle wounds of the War of the States. General John Logan, a Southern States General, was the brainchild behind this day. It was originally named “Decorations Day” and was scheduled on May 30. The reason May 30 was chosen had to do with the war itself. It seems that May 30 is the only day there is no recorded battles during the War of the States. Thus, on May 30, 1868 the nation officially celebrated the first Memorial Day. In Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address he spoke words 5 years before the first official observance and 2 years before the official end of the War of the States, that still live with us today:
“…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
– November 19, 1863 – Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
While Memorial Day was celebrated in one form or another for over 100 years it did not become a national holiday until 1971. It then became an official holiday to be observed by our nation. At 3pm local time communities will observe the National Moment of Remembrance. It is at this time that Public Law 106-579 comes into effect. It calls for everything to come to a stand still for a moment of observance and remembering those who have fallen. Amtrak trains blow their whistles and Major League Baseball games are suspended for this moment.
We at SBC Today desire to honor those who have died in service for our country. We also want to honor those who serve today in order that we may be free. When you eat your hot dog today remember there are those who are standing guard with only MRE‘s to eat so that you and I can freely eat those hot dogs. When you gripe and complain that our President has chosen to be in Chicago, something I am appalled to think he would do, remember that we have men and women fighting on a foreign field in order for our President to freely decide his place of celebration. Remember that when you lay your head down tonight and close your eyes, we have men and women standing guard that will not sleep in order for you and I to sleep soundly and free tonight.
However, there is one other death that we must remember. It is the death of Jesus Christ that gives us freedom. Do not ever forget that if His death had not been experienced we would not know what true freedom is.