3 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Memorial Day

dad-franceThis was my blog for AnchorPoint Church this week, but I thought it fit here too. Before I get to the three things – I wanted to explain the picture. My Dad didn’t die in WWII, but I still remember him on Memorial Day. My sister found this picture after Mom died, with the writing on the back. They weren’t married yet, Mom was still attending school at Moody when Dad sent this picture to her during the war. OK, here we go, three things you probably didn’t know….

1: One of the first US Memorial Day services was organized by former slaves.

When the Civil War was winding down, the South had thousands of Union POWs. They made camps in South Carolina, and brought the men there. Conditions were so bad that, at one camp near Charleston, over 250 prisoners died. They made a mass grave behind the camp. On May 1, 1865, a few weeks after the war ended, more than 1,000 recently freed slaves, joined by some U.S. Colored Troops and some white folks from Charleston gathered to dedicate a proper burial site. They had one of the first memorial services, including hymn singing and readings.

2: Memorial Day didn’t become a Federal Holiday until 1971. 

For over 50 years, many individual states had a “Decoration Day,” to commemorate those killed in the Civil war. It wasn’t until WWI that the tradition extended to those in other wars, and it wasn’t until Viet Nam that Memorial Day became a Federal Holiday.

3: Memorial Day has ancient, even Biblical roots

The practice of honoring those who have died in battle is much older than America. The Greeks and Romans would hold public parties in honor of those who had died, especially soldiers. In Athens, they held public funerals for fallen soldiers after each battle. But, the Bible goes back further still.

In the Old Testament, Biblical memorials weren’t focused on those who died in battle, but on the God who did battle for them. Jacob makes a stone memorial in Genesis 28, and Joshua in Joshua 4.

However, the greatest memorial is our Communion Service, which is a bit of each kind of memorial above. Each communion service is a memorial to Jesus, who did battle with sin and won by dying for us – and who did battle with death and won by rising from the dead for us.

This Memorial Day, let’s give thanks for those who died to give us a freedom to worship – and, let’s give thanks to Jesus who is worthy of our worship.

Some facts were stolen from http://www.history.com.

I’ll give them back.

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