This Memorial Day will, for many of us, look a lot different this year. We likely won’t have huge family cookouts, watch any parades, or visit any cemeteries to remember loved ones. But that doesn’t mean we can’t remember the true meaning of Memorial Day, in addition to maybe a few extra remembrances.
What Memorial Day Remembers
Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May, when we remember those who gave their lives in service to our nation as members of our Armed Forces.
Many Americans’ Memorial Day celebrations typically revolve around the unofficial beginning of summer—backyard barbecues, pool openings, and lake days are common activities. And, if you’re anything like me, you’re welcoming your first day off of work since the New Year!
A Different Kind of Memorial Day
This year, Memorial Day looks different for a lot of people. With many states still under stay-at-home orders and others still enforcing social distancing, large parties and neighborhood gatherings are likely not happening in person.
I know for me, I’m happy to have a day off work, although I will miss being able to see my family and friends. I’ve been trying to think of ways to have my own unique Memorial Day that lets me not only remember why this holiday began in the first place but also remember other important things in life that maybe I’m not able to celebrate in full.
Remembering Those Who Died
Of course, the primary purpose of Memorial Day is to remember those who died while serving in the United States’ military. Like many people, both of my grandpas were members of the Armed Forces when they were young. (Side note: my parents have both of their dads’ Army and Navy portraits displayed in their house, and I love seeing their youthful smiles and the mischievous glints in their eyes.)
Take this day to remember not only those who lost their lives serving our country, but also those whose lives were affected by PTSD, depression, or physical injuries because of their service.
Both of my grandpas are with Jesus now, but I’ll be taking a little extra time to remember their service, their lives, and their faith.
I’ve spent almost every Memorial Day in my parents’ backyard, where I’d eat fresh strawberries and whatever Dad had on the grill. This year, I’ll be quarantining in my apartment six hours away from them—but I’ll try to enjoy a couple strawberries and call my parents.
If you’re unable to spend this day off with your family, try to connect with them however you can. If you don’t have family in your life currently, reach out to someone who’s like family—a friend, co-worker, or mentor.
Or maybe you’ve been quarantined with your family for the past few months, and it’s been wearing you down to be stuck with them for so long with no breaks. Maybe Memorial Day is your chance to remember why you love your family and find ways to ease your relationship for at least one day.
One of the greatest joys in my life is worshiping Jesus with other people. Just being in that community together is so special! It’s been hard to not have that on a weekly basis, let alone not getting to talk to all my friends at church.
Many people have been reminding me that the Church is not a building. In the days of the Early Church, Christians worshiped in their homes with their families or neighbors, and the Church flourished!
This Memorial Day, remember what church is really all about—worshiping Jesus! If you’re really missing community, maybe find a way to Zoom or FaceTime with your Bible Study group and watch the service together!
Remembering Faith Ancestors
Lately, I’ve been really contemplating the impact of those who came before us in the faith—in my case, my family. For you, it might be a friend, pastor, or teacher. It really is incredible to think about how we have all believed in the same Jesus and will all be reunited in heaven one day!
In many aspects of my life, I’ve been trying to get back to basics and reclaim a simpler way of living. I’m reminded of my great-grandma, who raised a handful of kids on a farm and, when her eyesight began failing when she was in her nineties, listened to Scripture and hymns on tape. Throughout her life, she kneaded bread and read her Bible and stretched her body (even when she was in the nursing home!), so I’ll do each of those things in memory of her and her faith legacy that she imparted to my grandma, who imparted it to my mom, who imparted it to me.
Pray for those serving in the armed forces.