Memorial Day is to honor those I am thankful for

By Joan Clayton: PNT columnist

Memories flood my soul as I visit the graves of loved ones who have gone on before me.

As far back as I can remember, thoughts of my grandfather remind me of his love for Jesus.

My grandmother’s singing as she churned butter in the big crock with a dasher echoes in my ears. I remember pickled peaches, “rainbow” cakes, quilting frames and Sunday meals she cooked for the revival preacher. Her love for my grandfather left an indelible impression upon me.

I watched my dad take care of my mother for ten long, tedious years. He drew pictures for the beautician of how he wanted her hair to look. He pursued the best medical treatment for her. He stayed by her side, day and night in many hospitals.

“Sixty-five years of love, and I would do it all again,” he said proudly to visitors.

My mother’s heart’s desire for a college education was sacrificed for my brother and me to have that privilege.

Even though my grandparents and parents had hard times and difficulties, their faith in God kept them going. That left me a treasured legacy.

On this Memorial Day, I will decorate the resting places of those I hold so dear. I will be thankful God filled my life with so many people who loved me, guided me and taught me God’s way.

I will also honor those who have lost their lives in protecting my freedom. I honor the military, firefighters, police officers and others who put their lives on the line every day.

Their love and unselfishness is displayed in its truest form. “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 NIV).

I love seeing “Old Glory” proudly waving in my town. I feel a lump in my throat and a tear on my cheek whenever I hear our National Anthem. Every time I say the Pledge of Allegiance, I want to say “amen.”

I am glad for a Memorial Day of remembrance, but I think every day is a day to honor a man who died on an old rugged cross for me. He paid a debt I could not pay.

He is always there to encourage, sustain, comfort and heal. It is hard to see the way clear when I have a problem, but even in the darkest night, I am not alone. God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

Looking back over my life and remembering the places the Lord has brought me through, I can’t help but sing about his goodness and mercy.

Today I will say “I love you” to someone dear. Today I will be happy. I will count my many blessings and be filled with joy. Today I will not waste time in self-pity, reviewing the unfairness and injustices of life. I will look for the good and be glad I’m alive. Today I will think of happy times I’ve had on earth. Yet I know heaven will be indescribably better. Today I will remind myself this world is not my home. I say with the psalmist, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NIV).

This Memorial Day I will remember:

“Death is not the end. It seems so final now.

A loved one is in the grave. We carry on somehow.

That dear one left the body, for a better place.

No more pain because of God’s wondrous grace.

Though we miss that loved one, it will not be long

Until we meet again singing heaven’s song!”