Friday, May 23, 2014
A Time to Remember
Though it seems to have grown out of remembrance services for Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War, no one knows for sure where Memorial Day started. Over two dozen towns have laid claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation on May 26, 1966 identifying Waterloo, New York as the town where it all started, but truth is, no one really knows for certain.
One thing is for sure, most Americans see Memorial Day as the kick-off to summer and best of all, a three day weekend. Nothing wrong with a three day weekend, but I wonder how many of us will actually pause in the midst of picnics and travel to take a moment to remember and honor those who have given their all in service to their country?
In his book, A Goodly Heritage, Dr. Jennings Reid, with the help of John McCaskill, compiled a list all the known war veterans who were Sardis members. The list goes all the way back to the War of 1812 and ends with Vietnam. The list was complete at the time of publishing, but is not exhaustive as several Sardis members not listed also served in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. There are two young men pictured in Dr. Reid’s book, S/Sgt. Julian Sidney Miller, Jr. and Lt. Richard Preston Peoples. Both were killed in World War II. Both were so young.
Friends at Sardis started a class in their honor and called it the Miller-Peoples Class. It was a popular class where many lifelong friendships were forged. The class continued for decades, but as time moved on, members grew older and soon many passed on to Glory Land. The class eventually dwindled in size to only a handful, but they never lost the love they knew for each other and their remembrance of those two young men. Not long ago the class officially ended as the few remaining faithful migrated to other adult classes. The Miller – Peoples Class now lives only in memory.
I think about those two young men every Memorial Day. I think about all those young men and women who answered the call of duty, served our country, and gave their lives for our freedoms. Regardless of your political leanings, I hope you will pause among the hot dogs, burgers, and potato salad and remember why we have a three day weekend called Memorial Day.
Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NRSV). Those words seem to echo to me through the years come each Memorial Day. Is there someone you are especially thinking of this Memorial Day?