This weekend is long, but not particularly for a celebration. Sure, there will be the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs being grilled in the neighborhoods. There will be laughter coming from those enjoying the warm water of our lakes. This is the weekend of high school graduations and the first weekend following the last day of school.

Most importantly, the long weekend ends tomorrow with Memorial Day. This should be a weekend that all of us allow memories of our loved ones – whether family or friend – flood our minds. We need to remember the soldiers in the army, sailors, marines, airmen, or coast guard members who have given their lives for this wonderful country. As well as the ones who remain missing.

We owe the men and women of the military, as well as their families, our remembrance, gratitude and respect. They sacrificed themselves for freedom on our behalf.

We also owe it to our fallen and missing veterans to use everything they fought and died for. It is why they gave their life, after all – to save our way of life. We please our heroes by living freely. It is what they would do if they were with us.

Let Memorial Day be a day of remembrance.

One way to mark the true meaning of Memorial Day at home is The Missing May Ceremony. It honors those who are missing.

The table is round to show “our everlasting concern for our missing man.”

The tablecloth is white symbolizing “the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty.”

A vase sits on the table. A red ribbon is tied around its neck. It holds a single red rose. The vase tied with red ribbon represents “our continued determination to account for our missing.” The red rose “reminds us of the life of the missing and their loved ones.”

Salt poured on a plate represents tears; a slice of lemon “reminds us of the bitter fate of those captured or missing in a foreign land.”

A Bible on the table represents strength through God.

The empty chair represents the missing man. An overturned glass means he can never return.

The Missing Man Ceremony grew out of concern for the prisoners of war and missing in action during the Vietnam War. Typically a solemn event during formal military dinners, a moderator narrates from a script however that doesn’t mean that we should depend solely on our military organizations to observe the true purpose of Memorial Day.

Families all across the country are taking time this weekend to visit a gravesite and remember a loved one or friend who lost their life for us.

This ritual focuses our attention where it should be – remember those missing in action with a prayer of gratitude. Set up a fallen comrade table at your weekend event and take the time needed to remember the sacrifices that many families still realize today. They don’t need a symbolic reminder; they live it every day.

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