Memorial Day is a time for Americans to remember other Americans who, to put it in idealistic terms, gave their lives in the service of freedom in this world. However, while remembering those who died for the sake of freedom, we are bound to recall others who have gone on to glory.
This year, members of my family attended a Memorial Day Mass that took place in North Kansas City, MO. Standing under an arching stone shelter that protected the assembly from the drizzle and rain, the priest and deacon urged us to remember those who have gone before us. We remembered: Jesus Christ, who was crucified unto death on an old rugged cross for the sins of the world. American soldiers, fallen on distant battlefields. Even family members and friends, the obscure and the famous, all of whom had left this world for the next. During the worship service, we prayed; we remembered.
Memorial Day is always a memorable day for our family. On May 31, 2004—while her mother cleaned the kitchen, her brothers walked to a night-fishing spot on the Sound, and her father wrote another newsletter article in his pastor’s study—Paige Anne Stallsworth died. Over the span of her 21 years, Paige had fought a childhood cancer three times and won. Her fourth fight, which began with a bone-marrow transplant, ended in defeat. For all of her days, she had been a joyful warrior, a persistent patient. But Memorial Day 2004 was her last day on earth. She is remembered by her family and friends on many, perhaps most days—but especially on Memorial Day.
Remembering people who have died reminds us that the reason they lived was because they were given the gift of life by God. God lives. And God gives of Himself—He gives life. Indeed, God gives human lives—to be lived, to be redeemed, and to be spent (or given) for the glory of their Creator and the good of others.
Memorial Day, when we remember Americans who died defending our freedom, is a great day for bringing other departed brothers and sisters to mind. On Memorial Day, we remember that all of their lives were bestowed by God, our source, our Father. And give heartfelt thanks.