As we approach Memorial Day, we take the opportunity to remember and mourn US military personnel who have died while serving in the US armed forces. In this blog, we will be looking at the meaning behind Memorial Day as well as sharing some ideas for Memorial Day prayers and Bible verses that you can use to remember your loved ones.
What is Memorial Day?
Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) is a federal holiday in the United States. It is celebrated on the last Monday in May and is a chance to remember all of those who died while serving in the US armed forces. Across the country, many choose to wear poppies in honor of those who were killed in combat.
The United States didn’t begin to celebrate Memorial Day until after the Civil War, when people began to put flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers to honor their sacrifice for their country.
Today, Memorial Day is a federal holiday meaning that many Americans get the day off work. There is a national moment of remembrance held at 3pm. Flags fly at half-staff across the country and small American flags are placed near graves. A Memorial Day prayer is often said to remember the fallen and to pray for protection for those working in the armed forces today.
Memorial Day is a time when families can get together at the start of summer for a long weekend. Although it can seem strange to celebrate and mourn at the same time, it is important to remember those who fought for our country’s freedom and sacrificed their lives for the love of their country.
Bible verses about conflict
No one wants to fight in a war. War is horrific and brutal. But sometimes injustice rises up and the armed forces are called to fight against it. Fighting for peace is just and it costs a great deal. The price paid by the servicemen and women in the United States of America, and all over the world, will never be forgotten. Here are some verses about the need that there is sometimes to fight. God calls us as Christians to defend the weak:
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 82:3-4
Jesus says in John that:
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
Ecclesiastes reminds us that:
“There is […] a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:8
While we still see battles raging, we can call on God for peace and for an end to all conflicts. For we know that in the end, all things shall be resolved, and we will live in peace with God.
Bible verses for peace
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9
“But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:4
“He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” Isaiah 2:4
There will come a day when the nations do not fight anymore, and we long for that day of peace to come. You can read more about understanding the peace of God in this blog post.
It is painful to remember the fallen, and it is sobering to reflect that there are still conflicts taking place all over the world today. But that is why we remember. We remember so that peace may prevail. We call out the names of the fallen so that we will never take war lightly, that we may never forget the atrocities committed all over the world in times of war, and to remember those who have given up their lives in service to their country.
In the UK, one stanza from a poem entitled “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon is read out at remembrance services. It reads:
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
You can find the text of the whole poem here.
Memorial Day prayers
Now read on for some prayers that you can say on Memorial Day and in Memorial Day services.
A Memorial Day prayer
On this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. May the example of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace.
In union with people of goodwill of every nation, embolden us to answer the call to work for peace and justice, and thus, seek an end to violence and conflict around the globe.
We ask this through Your Name.”
– Author Unknown.
A prayer for peace
Thank You that one day there will be no war and that we can look forward to eternal peace with You.
We bring to You the conflicts in the world today.
Father, we ask for wisdom for country leaders and we ask for peaceful solutions.
We think of everyone today who is homeless or displaced because of conflict.
How long will it be until the world can live at peace?
Have mercy on our fallen world, Lord.
Today, we also think of everyone who serves in the armed forces.
Thank You for the lives of each and every one.
Thank You for their bravery in signing up to be of service to their country.
May they know Your peace and courage in times of need.
Show them that You are with them when they walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Let them know that they are not alone.
For those left behind
We bring to mind all those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom by laying down their lives. We take a moment now to remember their bravery. May we never forget the fallen, and their sacrifice. They will live on in our hearts and minds.
Give us comfort, Lord, that we will one day be together again with You, in a place where there are no more tears or sorrow.
Thanks for reading this blog; we hope that you are able to take a moment to reflect wherever you commemorate this Memorial Day.