During the Revolution, what's now called Washington Square here in the River City was a mass burial ground for fallen soldiers of the young nation, who by the thousands were brought to their rest within it. But of them all, one -- his name known but to God -- was chosen to represent the rest and receive a proper tomb and monument.
That's why the flame's there, atop the stone the inscription: "Beneath this stone rests a soldier of Washington's army, who died to give you liberty."
This weekend, the nation pauses to honor our many heroes, known and unknown, who've likewise given the final sacrifice. Yet while what the rest of the world calls Remembrance Day is predominantly marked abroad with commemorations of the mournful, two-minute-silence sort, it's an attribute of the Yank soul that on these shores Memorial Day is instead celebrated with the very gift our beloved dead's sacrifice made possible: a bit more freedom, whether for barbecues, the beach, an extended getaway, or just loafing around the house.
In that light, your narrator's off to do a little living over the long weekend. (Well, sleeping. But still, that's living too, right?)
For everyone hitting the road, safe travels, have fun... and hope you find the cheapest gas possible along the way. And however you're taking the holiday, here's to living a bit more than we all usually would; remember, they gave their lives that we might have ours and so gave us love's greatest measure.
Of course, that's not just the message of Memorial Day....
As the rare confluence of May's last Monday and Corpus Christi Sunday gives this weekend a homiletic "hook" if ever there were one, may you find both remembrances a beautiful, fruitful, life-giving experience in every way possible. While you're at it, don't forget to send up a word for those who even today risk harm and sacrifice home and comfort to keep us safe, those who've been wounded for freedom's sake and especially the families who mourn the lost, for whom every day is Memorial Day. And most of all, that none more be made to give their lives in conflicts of whatever sort, pray for peace -- and may its spread be our work always, in our families and communities, in this church and in our world.
God love you, gang -- and thanks for reading, all your kindness, encouragement, patience and support. Happy Memorial, Blessed Corpus, a Great Weekend to everyone!