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Memorial Day: Honor Those Who Have Given Their Lives in Military Service

By Deacon Keith Fournier
5/29/2016 (9 months ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Happy Memorial Day. To all who serve in the Military, Thank you! May the Lord bless you and your family. And, may those who laid down their lives in that call to service rest in peace.

I live in Chesapeake, a wonderful city in Southeastern Virginia where there are many members of the military. The parish I serve is an example of this. Every day, I witness the many sacrifices which military families make for our Nation. On this Memorial Day, I ask you to consider embracing a practice I was inspired to embrace years ago. Whenever and wherever you see a man or a woman in uniform, stop and shake their hand. Look them in the eyes. Thank them for their service to our Nation. Then, smile and say God bless you.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Highlights

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - Honoring those who have died in service to the Nation on Memorial Day is a beautiful American custom. There are numerous cities which claim they were the first to celebrate the Day set aside to do just that.  There are varied explanations of its history.

However, Memorial Day has evolved into a unique American moment for reflection, re-dedication and resolve.

This holiday on the last Monday of the month when we are all invited to pause to remember the men and women who died while serving our Nation in the military, also challenges us to live our lives differently as well. 

Though considered a secular holiday, many do not know that a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. At that time, we are asked to observe a moment of silence and prayer. Throughout the day, Americans visit cemeteries or memorials dedicated to the war dead and spiritually reflect on those existential issues which are the ground of faith. 

We are encouraged to celebrate the memory of the lives of those who died in service. There are community wide parades and picnics. The Holiday has also become the unofficial start to the summer season in the United States. So ingrained has its observance become that many public pools often time their opening to the observance.

I am always drawn to these words of Jesus on Memorial Day, "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13) Military service which leads to laying one's life down is certainly an expression of this kind of heroic love. It deserves to be honored. Those who witness to it are champions - and we should stop and reflect on their valor and virtue today as well.

For a good Catholic source to assist in this kind of a reflective approach to Memorial Day, I recommend that our readers spend some time considering the life and death of Father Vincent R. Capodanno. His heroic virtue and selfless service is a true inspiration.

In addition, consider Father Emil J. Kapaun, who represents such a beautiful example of living those words of Jesus with integrity and moral coherence. "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13) It is no surprise that his cause for canonization is moving forward. He is a Saint. How we need his witness, his prayers and his message in this urgent hour.

Our Nation continues to reel under the cultural rot accompanying the loss of our moral compass. We face the dangerous erosion of our first freedom, religious freedom. We struggle under the ominous dark cloud of a culture of death and have nearly forgotten that all men and women, including our youngest neighbors in the womb, have human dignity precisely because they were created in the very Image of God.

We have forgotten God and are losing our way as a truly free and virtuous people. We are in a precarious and vulnerable situation, both at home and abroad, and we need our military.

We need to thank those who sacrificially serve in all the branches of the military of the United States on this Memorial Day.  In an age which has lost its sense of sacrificial service as a calling, they stand as a sign to all of us that it is our duty. In the midst of picnics and pool openings, let us remember the real reason for this Holiday.

Catholics, indeed all Christians, should pray fervently for those who serve in the military today. We should also support them in every way we are able to do so. The Archdiocese for the Military Services website can be found here. I highly recommend a regular, prayerful visit to this great virtual place of honor. Pray for Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio and the Auxiliary Bishops who serve with him.

I live in Chesapeake, a wonderful city in Southeastern Virginia where there are many members of the military. The parish I serve is an example of this. Every day, I witness the many sacrifices which military families make for our Nation.

On this Memorial Day, I ask you to consider embracing a practice I was inspired to embrace years ago. Whenever and wherever you see a man or a woman in uniform, stop and shake their hand. Look them in the eyes. Thank them for their service to our Nation. Then, smile and say God bless you.

Happy Memorial Day. To all who serve in the Military, Thank you! May the Lord bless you and your family. And, may those who laid down their lives in that call to service rest in peace.

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Deacon Keith A. Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and seven grandchildren. He is a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate who served as the first and founding Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice in the nineteen nineties and has long been active at the intersection of faith and culture. He is a senior contributing writer to The Stream.

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