At 3 pm This Memorial Day, Take Time to Pause

The annals of American warfare are full of exploits that herald heroism, bravery, and self-sacrifice. Faithfulness may or may not get recognized by others. But faithfulness is often its own reward, as it was for Jim in one of my favorite wartime stories below:

Horror gripped the heart of the World War I soldier as he saw his lifelong friend fall in battle. Caught in a trench with continuous gunfire whizzing overhead, the soldier asked his lieutenant if he might go out into the “no man’s land” between the trenches to bring his fallen comrade back.

“You can go,” said the lieutenant, “but I don’t think it’ll be worth it. Your friend is probably dead, and you may throw your life away.” The lieutenant’s advice didn’t matter, and the soldier went anyway. Miraculously he managed to reach his friend, hoist him onto his shoulder and bring him back to their company’s trench. As the two of them tumbled in, the officer checked the wounded soldier and said, “I told you it wouldn’t be worth it. He’s dead, and now you are mortally wounded.”

“It was worth it, though, sir,” said the soldier.

“What do you mean; worth it?” responded the lieutenant. “Your friend is dead.”

“Yes, Sir,” the private answered. “But it was worth it because when I got to him, he was still alive, and I had the satisfaction of hearing him saying, “Jim…, I knew you’d come.”

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” Proverbs 17:17

The intended purpose of Memorial Day is pretty straightforward; it’s a time to highlight and reflect upon the faithful acts of all service members, like Jim’s selfless act recounted above. It’s a day we must disallow the busyness of life to drown out the recognition due to those who’ve secured our freedom. I’m afraid we as a people have grown so accustomed to “what’s next,” we hardly enjoy “what’s now,” much less appreciate “what happened back then.”

For that reason, I’d like to challenge you to begin a new 15-minute family tradition with the express intent of remembering. I’ll explain in further detail below but start by lining up three volunteers in advance. One will share a 3 pm story (local time), another will share The 3 pm Good Friday Story,” and finally, one will share his or her “12:00 noon story.”

A 3 pm story (local time)

Family member #1 could recount a heroic story from America’s past of someone who lost their lives to ensure our freedom. I’d suggest beginning at 3 pm, because in 2000, Congress passed The National Moment of Remembrance Act, as a way to honor America’s fallen heroes, and 3 pm (local time) is likely when we as Americans are most enjoying the freedom made possible by those who died serving our country. It’s a time when trains blow their whistles, baseball fans pause in silence, cars drive with their headlights on, Americans everywhere wave flags, and “Taps” is played throughout the nation.

The 3 pm Good Friday Story

Family member #2 could bring to remembrance the release Christ secured for the captives by reading aloud the crucifixion account, the ultimate example of “laying down One’s life for His friends.” This time is significant for Christians, as the precise moment in which Jesus “breathed His last” according to Mark 15:34. In fact, on the night He was betrayed, Jesus commended that all followers everywhere stop and pause to “remember” His sacrifice each time we celebrate Communion: “As often as you do this, do this in remembrance of Me.”

A 12:00 noon story

Family member #3 could share a personal testimony when he or she first believed. Because if you think about it, the fact that one can share Christ publicly is due in large part to those who fought for our freedom of religion. As for the reference to noon, it coincides with the time of the first conversion recorded in Scripture: when, in an abrupt switch of allegiances, the thief on the cross went from scornfully mocking Jesus one minute, to begging Him for remembrance the next: “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Jesus assured him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-44) Ironically, the only thing not remembered was the man’s previous record of wrongdoings: “their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more!” (Hebrews 10:17) The Gospel never ceases to amaze us in the most intricate of ways.

Lastly, consider playing taps, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving taken from 1st Thessalonians 1:2-3: “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”