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How to think about Memorial Day

Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:


TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, today is Memorial Day.

DR. REEDER: Yes, Tom, the origins of this holiday, of course, go back to what was identified in our history books as a term of compromise, the Civil War. And that’s when it started, the commemoration of the American soldiers who had lost their lives in the Civil War.

Eventually what happened is Memorial Day became that occasion for us to remember any and all service men and women who have given their lives in what is referred to by Abraham Lincoln as “the last full measure.”

Many of us enjoy freedoms, but these freedoms are not free — they have cost the lives of many so that we can enjoy constitutional law, a Bill of Rights, living in a free country, freedom of press, free practice of religion, free assembly and all of those things — those wonderful freedoms — that God has given us as inalienable rights affirmed in our Declaration and in our Constitution. They are not only affirmed in our Declaration and encoded in our Constitution, but also elaborated in the Bill of Rights.


Therefore, for those who have given their lives, we are grateful, but we also, at Memorial Day, think of the families who have lost loved ones. Memorial Day, don’t just treat it as a Hallmark event or as, “Oh, this is our opportunity for a long weekend; let’s go to the beach.” Enjoy your vacations — and I understand that — but remember what this Memorial Day is for. Think of those families and think of what needs to be said for them.

At Briarwood, we will be having a time of prayer to remember those who have given their lives so that we can enjoy the free practice of religion and the other freedoms that we have and I want to encourage others to do the same. Thank you so much for the many of you who exhibit such a thoughtful approach to patriotism.


And this is one of those thoughtful approaches that, God willing, no matter where you are on the political spectrum, you and I can muster the ability to take these moments to not only remember those who died for us to enjoy our freedoms, but remember the families who no longer have access to that loved one and that we need to seek them out and encourage them in the challenges that they face and probably a day like this is going to surface it emotionally in their life.

Many times, we feel like we’ve got to come up with some great statement, but simply speak the truth in love to them. “Thank you. I know you’ve had a great loss and I know I have a great gain because of your loss so I want you to know that I love you and I am grateful for your loved one. And I want you to know that we will be praying for you and available to encourage you.”

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.


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