Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Significance of Memorial

We mark this weekend and the first day of our week with remembrance. Even back through the history of the Hebrews, God instructs his people to remember. An obvious reason for remembrance is the trite saying that "those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it." I'm not very fond of such a utilitarian view for the purpose of study. We remember because of humanity. Those who have gone before us were individuals. Men and women with husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children, friends, teachers; people just like the ones we encounter every day; people just like the ones we see in the mirror every morning. We remember because of respect. To take the time to honor the dead, we value their person, their legacy. We value who they were and what they've left behind; for we all leave something behind. The Bible commands us to "honor our parents." In no small way, this requires that we learn to respect those from whom we came. Good, bad, or ugly, it is from our parents that we came and much of who we are is owed to them. Until we can honor that, we cannot honor ourselves. That is why we memorialize. Those who have gone before us have made us who we are. For better or for worse, we are the product of our history and as such we must remember it so that we may honor it, but this is much different than revering it. On Memorial Day, we honor those who have fallen in service of their nation. These are the men and women who have made us who we are. Some have fallen in honor and others in disgrace, but still we remember. We remember and model the way of the hero, and learn to avoid the way of the heel. They are our mothers and fathers; aunts and uncles; brothers and sisters; and maybe even children, and we remember them. But mostly we remember that in this world there are those who are willing to leave service to self behind and work in the interest of others, and this attitude more than all is worthy of memorial.