US Code, Title 36, Subtitle 1, Part A, Chapter 1, section 116 designates Memorial Day a Federal Holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday of May. The law requests the President to issue a proclamation:
- calling on the people of the United States to observe Memorial Day by praying, according to their individual religious faith, for permanent peace;
- designating a period of time on Memorial Day during which the people may unite in prayer for a permanent peace
- calling on the people of the United States to unite in prayer at that time; and
- calling on the media to join in observing Memorial Day and the period of prayer.
The above law, established by the U.S. Congress, acknowledges America’s dependence on God for permanent peace and it follows the principles of 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
This year, Memorial Day falls on May 29. Memorial Day is a day set aside to ask for God’s protection from war and war’s horrible consequences.
Memorial Day is also a time to honor the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in defense of the many freedoms that all Americans enjoy. They fought for those standing at their side and for their loved ones at home. Their loss of life is immeasurable for their parents, spouses, children, family, friends, and their battle buddies. It is our duty, and God’s command, to strengthen and encourage their widows and their children. We, more than anyone, have information their loved ones long to hear and want to understand.
Not forgetting means we must keep memories of these Fallen Soldiers alive by sharing our memories with each other and we must pass our memories along to others. So how do we begin?
If you are a Veteran, start by writing down your memories of the Fallen Soldiers from your unit. Create a contact list of friends who served with you and the Fallen Soldier. Ask each person to document their memories in writing and with photos; and to suggest others who served with the Fallen Soldier. Collect and store the written memories and photos. Create a website, Facebook page, or shared folder for the Fallen Soldier. Share the website/Facebook page/shared folder URL with members of your unit. Continue to add content as others contribute.
Communicating with the Fallen Soldier’s family is so very important. Every day is Memorial Day for them and their worst fear is that their loved one will be forgotten. You know things that they long to hear. Your memories are priceless to a child who wonders what their father or mother was like and to the parent who longs to know what happened to their child. Talking with them, answering questions, sharing positive things about their Soldier are invaluable to them. Your memories will be their treasure for life.
Remember key dates that are important to the Gold Star Family. Calling family members of a Fallen Soldier on the anniversary of their death honors the Soldier and it honors the family. The very act of remembering the date speaks volumes to the Gold Star Family Members, and you can be certain they remember. These are tangible ways to demonstrate that you have not forgotten their loved one and their priceless sacrifice. Each year, sharing your memories, even if you are repeating yourself, will reinforce the value of their Fallen Soldier.
Keeping memories alive through social media, letters, and telephone calls is inexpensive, easy, and very effective. However, nothing is as effective as face-to-face communications. When possible, visit Gold Star Families. Time is your most precious resource and when you share it with Gold Star Families, you honor them and their Fallen Soldier.
This Memorial Day, pray for peace, honor the Fallen, and encourage their families. Remember, Memorial Day should be every day.
About the Author U.S. Army veteran and retired Colonel David Dodd served more than 27 years in the military, including two deployments to Iraq and one deployment to Afghanistan. He is a man of deep faith, a husband and father. After his retirement, Dodd founded Point 27—Strength for the Fight, a nonprofit, which honors members of the military, Veterans, Gold Star Family Members, first responders and the families of fallen responders with Shields of Strength scripture-engraved keepsakes.