Often as not, I have little to say with respect to specific holidays. However, on Sunday, my pastor gave an outstanding sermon that linked Memorial Day and the courage to testify to the truth of Christianity. He left me feeling a little confused. Usually, when one hears a sermon, we expect clarity and inspiration, not confusion. Nonetheless, I was left in confusion and still liked the sermon.
It is when we are in confusion that we think. What is Memorial Day? Wikipedia provides a history here. The holiday began after the Civil War. After hundreds of thousands died, their battlefields slowly became national parks. These parks now protect the stone and masonary monuments that mark the sorrows of the survivors of the Civil War. Unfortunately, wars never end. So we also honor the dead of other wars on Memorial Day.
The generation that fought the last great war is nearly gone. Most of us have never known war. Few of us can or will be soldiers. We are at war, but this battle against terrorism involves few of us. To many, it seems nothing more than an expensive nuisance (a measure of the success of those fighting this war). What is there about Memorial Day we need to learn, to celebrate? What in our daily lives requires courage and patriotism?
My pastor spoke of the courage of Peter and John (Acts 4). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter and John spoke before the Sanhedrin and the people of Jerusalem. They spoke before men with the authority to have them flogged for speaking the truth about Christ. What demands such courage of us? What demands of us the courage to face the horrors a battlefield?
Each day in our life, we have a choice. What do I do with this day? Some amongst us are true heros. When you look upon them, you may at first observe that God has given them much. However, in time you may also observe that these people endeavor to give as much back to their neighbors. For example, Prince William County is blessed with relatively good public schools (see here). We owe much of this success to the dedicated members of our School Board.
The members of the School Board are essentially volunteers. In return for managing a billion-dollar plus budget, we pay them each about $12,000/year. These highly qualified people often work 20-hour weeks. That is in addition to working their full time jobs. Moreover, they submit themselves to the judgement of the community.
What our School Board members (and our other public officials) do requires great courage, fortitude, and generosity. Though few on our School Board will die as a consequence of bullet wounds or cannon fire, there are, undoubtedly, many who would rather face the horrors of a battlefield. Even unseen wounds can still be full of pain.
Although we dedicate Memorial Day to those who sacrificed their lives for us on battlefields around the world, we must not forget the debt we owe to those who honorably serve us within our communities. These people give us a great many precious moments of their lives. Please take the time to thank your School Board member.