What do you remember from your childhood? For me, I remember all the GREAT times our family had at picnics. Often, on July 4th, the McCarty clan would gather for an old fashioned hot dog and hamburger picnic. Of course the obligatory potato salad and jello were there as well. And, my grandmother made a cake named the “nameless cake.” Yes, that was its name. Apparently she saw the recipe in a magazine and there was a contest to name the recipe. But, grandma never saw the result! So, for all those years the McCartys just called it the nameless cake. But, nameless or not, it was delicious. Among the frivolity were games, laughter and family. What wonderful memories I have of those picnics.
Another day on the calendar that brought family together was called “Decoration Day.” Now, this picnic was normally held at my grandparents farm in Western Pennsylvania. This gathering found the Shoemakers coming together for a picnic. Let me tell you, farmers can cook! We would have everything from fried chicken to burgers. On the farm, however, it wasn’t just fun and games. Those cows still needed to be fed and milked twice a day. One other occurrence would always happen that wasn’t the most pleasant; traveling to the cemetery to decorate the graves. Many of the family would travel to various cemeteries to remember our relatives who had passed on. Some of the Shoemaker clan had passed away in the 1800’s and their gravestones were hard to read. Yet, it was a lesson in history needed to be passed on to the younger generation.
In those days, however, I didn’t really understand why in Pennsylvania we called it “Decoration Day” and it seemed in Ohio we called it “Memorial Day.” Well, over the years I found out why. During and after the Civil War many were seeking ways to memorialize those who died in battle. They would travel to the cemeteries to literally decorate the graves. Thus, it became known as Decoration day. By 1887 the name was changing to Memorial Day. It would not be until 1967 that the name was officially changed and by 1968 Congress declared the last Monday of May as the official day for Memorial Day.
I can, also, remember the parades and marching bands on that day. I can remember the patriotism that was sparked on that day. It was a time to focus more on those who had died for our freedoms than on the picnics and festivities.
On Sunday we will celebrate Memorial day. Wait, you say, that was on Monday! I know when our country celebrates Memorial Day. Each and every year, and only once a year, we soberly remember those who have died for freedom. But, we, every month, have a memorial day of our own. On the first Sunday of each and every month we set aside a portion of our service to remember the One who died for our spiritual freedom. No, we don’t usually have a picnic. But, we have a “meal” none-the-less. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we are remembering HIs death, burial and resurrection. It is Jesus who said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” You see, it really is our Memorial Day.
So, no matter what we call it, let us look back to the Cross of Christ to remember His sacrifice for our sins. Then, let us look forward to His return again to catch us away. How thankful I am for those who fought and died for my freedoms in America. But, I’ll be eternally thankful for my Saviour Who died in my place and gave me life.
Come Sunday ready to celebrate Memorial Day with us.