Scheduled for May 25
is Memorial Day. In the tradition of late 20th century America, the most
notable thing about it is an automobile race.
are many reasons why the one thing we don’t want to do on Memorial Day is
remember. I suggest only three here.
there is today a cult of youth. Watch the typical television situation comedy,
and you will see a dysfunctional (but funny, of course) family. The father
will be a lecherous dolt, barely capable of thinking his way out the front
door. Mother’s IQ is only slightly higher. Intelligence, wit and sense are
reserved for the teenagers (who, by the oddest of chance, are also the intended
target of the commercials). How curious it is that we are now raising a
generation taught to believe that at the age of twenty they will be obsolete.
In any other culture, age would be respected. But since youth is paramount,
why would anyone care about anyone older -- especially the dead?
there is an attitude best expressed by the movie executive who first turned
down the script for Gone with the Wind: “Anything that happened before
I was born can’t be of interest to anyone.” To begin with, this is sheer
arrogance; it is the attitude that the current generation is the only one ever
to walk the planet with anything worthwhile to say or do. The absurdity of it
all is this: the people of this attitude take their ideas from those who are
long dead. The sin of pride is no better displayed in our time than in this.
It is also the wellspring of contemporary political thought.
significant of all, though, is this: we are not willing to face death. Since
youth alone is the time of life in which important things happen, and people
are genuinely wise; since the gone are deservedly forgotten, is it any wonder
that we turn our faces away from death, and deny it until it is upon us? But
the truth is still the truth, and death comes to us all. The only real
question is, “what then?”
seems that those long gone people who established Memorial Day may have had a
better idea. Youth? Yes, this day honors the youth -- who died in combat, and
in dying gave us liberty. As such, it calls our minds back to the noble things
for which they sacrificed. And in doing so, forces us to face death. Death,
not just in the abstract, but death as a sacrifice for a cause. A noble death.
may take this to its highest example: Jesus Christ. Jesus the man died at
about 33 years of age; leaving neither wife nor children. But for what a
cause! Indeed, the highest possible cause: to give all of mankind, all who
will, eternal life. In the Lord’s Supper we face His death; we also face our
own. But in looking back in memory, we also look forward to the time when
death shall be no more. Can there be any sacrifice more worthy of memorial
than that of Jesus on the cross?