Memorial Day has its origins in remembrance of the dead of the Civil War. In Charleston, South Carolina, formerly enslaved black people took the bodies of Union soldiers from a mass grave and reinterred them in individual graves. Completing the work in only ten days, they held a service of remembrance on May 1, 1865, with a crowd of about ten thousand, mainly black residents.
We now remember the dead of all wars, many of whom remain nameless, symbols of the willingness to try to preserve freedom. What does it mean to remember? Is it simply so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past? Or can it become more, such as a commitment to creating a culture of peace in our own land?
It is a time to reflect on the terrible cost of freedom and democracy. We look for better ways to resolve conflicts between nations and peoples. We know, of course, that not all leaders or countries commit themselves to peace. Addressing that reality remains our challenge as we honor the memory of those who have died.
Prayer for the Day
God of memories, old and new, beautiful and sad,
Grace us today with your presence in our lives,
God of broken hearts, mend us and heal us,
And enable us to embrace the future.
Set us free from what has bound us to the past
Freeing us to catch a glimpse of your kingdom.
In the name of the One who shows us how to live,
Even Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.