Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was established to honor soldiers who fell during the Civil War. It is the last Monday in May, hence the celebration is not tied to a specific date like Christmas. The meaning of the celebration broadened as we became more involved in more wars to include honoring all fallen soldiers fighting for the USA. (Even as today we debate who gets to be considered “essential” and who is “on the front line” I suspect we mourn today loved ones departed who fought for our lives.) In 1967, my lifetime, the celebration became legally known as Memorial Day. I have always thought Proverbs 25: 20 a mystery verse, “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” I admit I have never poured vinegar on soda but I suspect it causes a bubbling effect, eating up the soda. But how is that tied to taking away a garment on a cold day? As I researched interpretations, the one I like most proposed that singing is a highly valued tool for dealing with a heavy heart all through the Bible. The problem is not singing. Ecclesiastes 3:4 sheds light, “There I a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” The problem is not taking off a coat, pouring vinegar, or singing but the wise person knows the appropriate time for an action. I remember begging my mother to let me go outside in the winter without a coat and her reprimand that it was zero degrees out. I remember walking into church, heavy hearted and involved in self introverted thoughts but as I relax and listen to the prelude, I am drawn out of myself to a better place and my heart opens to worship. Memories of our loved ones who gave their lives for us can draw us to deep remorse so we cloak this day in music and stories of heroism to draw us to places of gratitude for all that has been done to bring us to today.
As we remember today, I pray we can forgive and forget that which is not worth remembering and dwell on the blessings of those who lived their lives helping us and the God who holds all our lives in his hands. Blessings.