Memorial Day is an American Holiday to honor and mourn the passing of men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Twenty one years ago, the “National Moment of Remembrance” was born as a way to remind Americans of all ages about the sacrifice of previous generations. Here’s the original wording from the White House Millennium Council:
MEMORIAL DAY, MAY 29, 2000
Event: National Moment of Remembrance to reclaim Memorial Day as the noble event it was intended to be, to honor those who died in service to our nation.
Time: 3:00 p.m. (Local Time) Duration: 1 minute
Place: Wherever they happen to be, all Americans, whether together or alone, are encouraged to take a moment to participate.
Action: To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to “Taps.”
Purpose: To demonstrate gratitude to those who died for our freedom.
To remind all Americans of the importance of remembering those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
To provide U.S. citizens in America and throughout the world the opportunity to join in this symbolic act of unity.
To make Memorial Day relevant, especially to younger Americans.
Goal: Groups and/or individuals, from major corporations to neighborhoods, are encouraged to form a citizens corps or a “Memorial Alliance” to help all 275 million Americans observe the National Moment of Remembrance.
History: In May 1996, the idea of the Moment was born when children touring Lafayette Park in Washington, DC were asked what Memorial Day meant and they responded, “That’s the day the pools open!”
May 1997 saw the start of what is becoming an American tradition recognized by the President and Members of Congress — to put the “memorial” back in Memorial Day. It was initiated by No Greater Love, a Washington, DC-based national humanitarian organization. For the first time in U.S. history, on Memorial Day 1997 “Taps” was played at 3 p.m. in many locations and at events throughout America. This effort was repeated again in 1998 and 1999. This simple, dignified form of remembrance introduces a solemn annual moment into our citizen’s lives.
3:00 p.m. was chosen because it is a time of day when most Americans are likely making the most of the freedoms we enjoy.
We are citizens of heaven and only strangers on this earth, so our loyalty lies with the King of kings. But according to 1 Timothy 2: 1–4, we are also citizens of nations, and are told to pray for our country’s guidance—for peace and quiet, so that the Gospel can be preached:
1 Timothy 2:1-4 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
The men and women of the past who have given their ultimate sacrifice have died so that we could assemble today in freedom and worship our God as we see fit. We are not in an underground church today. We can sing whatever we want, say whatever the Bible says, and publicize our message because of the unique freedoms granted to us in this unique period of history.
I pray we never take that for granted. Even secular leaders of the past worried that Americans might forget the sacrifices of the past, so this special day was set up for our remembrance. Enjoy it, yes, but never forget the good gifts of God to us.