No! School’s out for the three-day holiday or maybe for summer vacation, and I’m asking you to take a quiz!
But it’s short, if not simple. And don’t you think if we Americans are going to have a day called Memorial Day, that we should have some clue about what it means?
1. What does Memorial Day mean?
2. What was it called before?
3. When is the National Moment of Remembrance?
How’d you do?
That’s the day the pool opens!
We Americans love our three-day weekends, and it doesn’t seem to matter much to most people what the reason for the holiday originally was. If we had a holiday in honor of the launch of ICanHasCheezburger.com (Jan. 11, 2007, according to Wikipedia), most people would be happy.
But Memorial Day has a very solemn meaning, so let’s look at the answers:
1. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in the nation’s service.
2. It was originally called Decoration Day (referring to decorating the graves of those who gave their lives).
3. 3 p.m. on Memorial Day (May 31, 2010).
“The National Moment of Remembrance , established by Congress, asks Americans wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day to pause in an act of national unity (duration: one minute).
“The idea for the Moment was born when children touring the Nation’s Capital were asked by the Commission’s Director what Memorial Day means. They responded, ‘That’s the day the pool opens.’” The Web site also cites a Gallup Poll that showed only 28 percent of Americans know the meaning of Memorial Day.
Though the meaning of the day is clear, the history of Memorial Day can get a little complicated, since over two dozen cities and towns lay claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day in the aftermath of the American Civil War in the 1860s. But this shows the universality of the desire to remember those who gave their lives.
One Web site (http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html ) gives this important slice of the history:
“Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.”
That site also decried the loss of understanding of the meaning of the day.
“But what may be needed to return the solemn, and even sacred, spirit back to Memorial Day is for a return to its traditional day of observance. Many feel that when Congress made the day into a three-day weekend…with the National Holiday Act of 1971, it made it all the easier for people to be distracted from the spirit and meaning of the day. As the VFW stated in its 2002 Memorial Day address: ‘Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public’s nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.’”
Recapturing the meaning of memorials
My small attempt at educating Americans to the meaning of Memorial Day is really part of a larger purpose. There are other days whose meanings have been forgotten. And there are days that the Bible lists as memorials that many people have never heard of.
How many Christians celebrate the night Jesus Christ set as a memorial of His death? Jesus, who gave His life in service to all of us, said, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15-20 Luke 22:15-20 15 And he said to them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
16 For I say to you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
18 For I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
American King James Version×). After establishing the bread and the wine as the symbols of the New Testament Passover, Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 24 And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
American King James Version×).
Another biblical festival many have forgotten is Pentecost, a memorial of the founding of the Church of God and the giving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4 Acts 2:1-4 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
American King James Version×, 37-41). How many celebrated this meaningful memorial on May 23, 2010?
In fact, the Bible lists seven meaningful festivals that are often overlooked today. God gave them as memorials to remind us every year of the great plan He is working out! Our free booklet God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind makes an inspiring and enlightening Bible study. I hope you will make the effort to download or request it. I believe the answers it gives will encourage and help you in all the tests you face in life.