by Daniel Hong
As I take this day to reflect on the sacrifices made by our troops, a particular song comes to mind. And a portion of it really captures the heart of what this day should be, and here it is from the chorus:
I’m proud to be an American
For at least I know I’m free
I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me.
If you have been living in this country for any significant amount of time you would recognize this song as “God bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. A song that is still sung today at presidential inaugurations. The popularity and iconic stature of this song is rightfully credited as it properly states the fundamental idea of what it means to be an American. It also explicitly (or implicitly) proclaims the proper meaning of Memorial Day as a day of remembrance of those who made the sacrifices to protect and defend our constitutional republic. The principles of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence have withstood the test of time because of them. Thus, it is crucial to understand the proper meaning of Memorial Day.
The Heritage Foundation’s media wing the Daily Signal had an interesting article that highlights the history of this national holiday as well as some facts most people don’t want to hear about. One of them is the embarrassing statement that most Americans are not aware of what Memorial Day stands for and often conflate it with Veterans Day.
The article states:
“Regrettably, a Gallup poll in 2000 revealed that only 28 percent of Americans knew the true meaning of Memorial Day, and 40 percent confused it with Veterans Day.”
Now I do believe many good hearted people make this mistake by accident and out of that show great respect to our current troops as a result. Now, I do believe our troops should receive respect in general other than just Veterans Day but if that’s what American’s will understand Memorial Day to be then you might as well have two Veterans Days.
The Daily Signal explains the simple but forgotten distinction:
“Memorial Day is the day to remember those men and women who died while serving in our nation’s armed forces, whereas Veterans Day is a day to celebrate the service of all U.S. military veterans.”
It might be that the ignorance comes from the fact that this holiday used to fall on the 30th of May and was moved to the last weekend of the month which resulted in a commercialization of this holiday for concerts, baseball games, beaches, BBQs and etc. These things by all means are good and Americans should use this day for celebration, but they should be used in conjunction and to commemorate this glorious day.
For me as a Bible believing Christian there is a deeper meaning to this celebratory day, as the symbol of a soldier’s brave sacrifice for our freedoms represents the brave sacrifice of Christ on the Cross in which my freedom as well as the freedom for anyone around the world who places their faith in Jesus Christ was won. Sin no longer has a death grip so there is reason to celebrate for me in worship. Also, God who is the primary protector of nations does it through secondary means which is the Armed Forces. The Bible actually refers to them as ministers of justice, an avenger (No not the superheroes) of God. Therefore, taking a moment to remember this also helps me look forward and grow in a deeper reverence for the Lord, in the same manner remembering the troops who made the sacrifice all those years ago helps me to have deeper respect for those who currently serve overseas in combat operations most notably against Islamic terrorists. So the point is however you celebrate this day go and do it, I myself might watch a baseball game there is nothing wrong with that, in fact I sincerely hope you enjoy it. I just humbly and respectfully plead that as you do you will keep in remembrance, the reason why you can.
I leave you with this speech from former President Ronald Reagan in 1986 from Arlington National Cemetery as a tribute to this Day: