To whom do we owe something on Memorial Day?

by | May 29, 2023 | Faith, Family, Local or Human Interest | 2 comments |

To owe something to someone.

On Memorial Day when I was growing up, we always drained the muddy water and scrubbed algae from the walls of the 45’x90’ spring-fed pool my father had built for the neighborhood the year before I was born. Everyone pitched in despite Connecticut’s rain and chill. We owe our time and labor to one another. If you swim, you clean, or as Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:10. “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” 

Now, on this rainy, chilly Memorial Day here at Vanaprastha, I’m thinking about who I owe what, to whom I’m under a moral obligation to give something.

To our forefathers we owe gratitude

Yesterday morning at Trinity Lutheran Church in Crimora, Virginia—the original home church of Bethany Lutheran Church in Fishersville—we gave thanks to those in our congregation who had served in our armed forces. In the cemetery, flags appropriate to the conflict—the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam—marked the graves of those who had also served. During the service, I gazed at the flag outside the church window and remembered the words of George Washington’s Farewell Address:

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Confession. Repentance. Grace. Mercy. Remembrance.

Later, I wandered through the cemetery, looking at the flag-marked graves of those who had served. I gave these veteran forefathers my gratitude, as is my moral obligation. Because of their service, I am able to live and worship in freedom.

To our parents we owe honor

I was born in 1951, but my possibility of life had been jeopardized at least three times in the previous decade. Many of us whose parents served in the armed forces during WWII could say the same thing. Three of my father’s assigned units were wiped out to the man, and he survived only because last-minute orders sent him elsewhere.

Keith’s father, who was a fighter pilot in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, had many similar stories. He survived when his P-47 was shot down in Belgium in 1945. Another time, when he was flying the F-100 Super Saber jet, a superior officer commandeered Dad’s plane in order to fly with a visiting officer. The plane malfunctioned on take-off and crashed into a hillside.

Young and fearless in the face of Depression and World War, my parents and Keith’s were members of Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation, and we are their baby boomer offspring. We their children honor them, as in the fifth commandment: “Honor your father and mother.” Respect and care for them.

To our God we owe faithfulness

Last year, while celebrating my daughter’s and our granddaughter’s birthdays, I came down with a nasty cold and could not attend the Memorial Day service in person. Keith and I worshipped online, ever-so grateful to those who made it possible to love God and love our neighbors by staying home. To be faithful in prayer, in the Word, and in our actions.

What does the LORD require of us? Faithfulness.

“To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

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  1. bigskybuckeye

    A blessed post! We owe our military personnel so much for their ultimate sacrifices in so many battlefields around the globe. My maternal grandfather served in World War II, and my paternal grandfather served in World War I. There are other family members who served, and all returned home safely.

    • Carole Duff

      Dear Richard,

      Thank you for your family’s service – indeed an honor. Our families share the blessing of all returning home. I am humbled by those whose loved ones did not.



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