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This Memorial Day, Don and I walked into the Villages auditorium to find it almost full. We found two seats at the end of the second row. The Villages, where we live, hosts an annual Memorial Day event to remember and honor those fallen in service to our country.

Red, white and blue were evident throughout the audience. After an opening choral song and a good solo rendition of “O Say Can You See,” the Villages Christian pastor spoke.

His Message

Pastor Bill is an eloquent and powerful speaker, and was very clear about the fact that we all have a choice. The choice is to have a personal relationship with the God of the universe, or to spend eternity with “the other guy.” This dear man has undergone two heart surgeries and, according to the woman next to me, gallbladder surgery last week. He is on the board of our church and a gifted and loving leader. He shared that “Many of you know I’ve gone through different body parts. But those surgeries didn’t extend my life because God says our days are numbered from birth.”

The days of the upright are numbered by the Lord and their heritage will be for ever. Psalm 37:18

How grateful I am for a clear message on this important day.

History of this Holiday

Memorial Day was first named Decoration Day. It originated after the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. The first such day to remember those fallen in battle to preserve our country’s freedom took place May 30, 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery, VA.

Approximately 11,250 White and Black Union soldiers were buried along with about 350 Confederate soldiers; more than half were buried as unknowns. The ceremony was held around the Arlington mansion, decorated with flags and draped for mourning. Nearby was the “very profuse decoration of the main tomb where the remains of 2,111 unknown soldiers are buried.” Once the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the dwelling and land around it was designated a national cemetery in 1864 by General Meigs.

A Time of Remembrance

A meaningful part of today’s service was the remembering of names. Whoever wished to could stand, say the name of the person remembered, their service and, if known, date of death. I thought of all those precious lost men and women, and of their families who will never forget.

After another speaker and closing with “God Bless America,” followed by a bugler playing Taps, we went our separate ways.

I’m grateful for a community where veterans are honored and held in respect. Where people choose to remember the sacrifices made so this country could remain free.

My husband, Don, is one of 87,443 World War II living veterans in 2024.  Statista projects this number will drop to 61,256 in 2025 ( I’m grateful for Don’s service as a medic, and know there are aspects of the war he will not talk about. I think that’s true of many. The horrors of war are too deep to relive.

We are losing our heroes of the past.

As awful as war is, may we give thanks for those who served faithfully to protect our freedoms. And may we work to keep those freedoms alive.

  • “May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please but as the opportunity to do what is right.” — Peter Marshall

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