General George Santayana is credited with those famous words. And yet, it is remembering, or more precisely the lack of remembering, that causes so many problems.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 byGeneral John Logan. The proclamation became a movement starting first in the state of New York. In 1971, it became a federally-recognized holiday.
Ironically, over the past 150 years, the meaning of Memorial Day has been slowly forgotten. You may see more traffic at the cemeteries than on other days, but fewer families will take the time to remember those who have fallen.
When she was still alive, my grandmother made “Decoration Day” an annual priority. Decorating wreaths, talking about who they were for, and delivering them to the cemetery was a yearly tradition. But, today, Memorial Day, for many, is just an extra day off. The meaning of the day is lost to vacations, BBQs, leisure, or travel.
Mind you, I’m not against vacations, BBQ, leisure or travel. My point is we have slowly forgotten. Our freedom means less to us as we forget the precious blood spilled to attain it. This is the purpose of Memorial Day—to remember the price paid for our freedom. And, in doing so, to keep up from giving up those freedoms so easily.
The same is true in our spiritual lives.
It is for good reason that we are called to remember the sacrifice Jesus made every week.
From one week to the next, it is easy to lose my focus and forget the price paid for my freedom from sin and death. Without remembering, it is too easy to take it for granted.
Freedom, be it spiritually or nationally, is never free. Both demand eternal vigilance. “What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly.” This weekend, whatever you do, I do hope you’ll pause to remember.
On Sunday, may you remember the great price Jesus paid to redeem you. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
And on Monday, may you and your family remember the price paid by many that you might remain free. We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.