Reflecting on Memorial Day

The last Monday in May is a very important holiday, but can sometimes be overshadowed by summer plans and barbecues. This Memorial Day, take some time out of the busy weekend to reflect and pray for all the people whom the day commemorates.

What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day? “We have a holiday called Veterans Day when we honor all who served, and that’s a very important holiday—it’s November 11. But Memorial Day is a time for us particularly to remember those who lost their lives in defense of our country,” explains military veteran Msgr. Stuart Swetland, host of Go Ask Your Father®.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, and began after the Civil War as a way to remember soldiers who had died in battle by decorating their graves with flowers and flags. “I’m always reminded of John 15:13, ‘Greater love has no man than this: to lay down one’s life for a friend,’” says Msgr. Swetland. “The act of actually laying down your life like people do in defense of freedom and defense of the innocent, that’s what we commemorate on Memorial Day.”

It’s important that we take time to remember and thank our military. “It’s an amazing thing that people would be willing to fight to protect the lives of other people, the principles of the United States, that they would be willing to give so much, including their lives, for those values. It’s good that we remember them annually, at least, and thank God for them and for the contribution they gave for all of us,” says the Most Rev. Donald Kettler, Bishop of Saint Cloud.

It is also important “to be very concerned about the continuing care for those who’ve served in our military”, with medical and psychological care “because of the trauma of what they went through. We need to continue to care for them as well as we possibly can,” says Bishop Kettler.

For ideas on remembering those who died in service to our country, read Ways to Observe Memorial Day.