Lauren Casper »

Rows of Flags and the Questions of Small Children – the Broken Beauty of Memorial Day

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We passed a slope of grass covered with rows of flags, placed there the day before. Each row had a number, a label, to identity what those flags stood for… who those flags stood for. The kids asked from the backseat…

“What are all those flags there for, Mom?”

“Memorial Day.” I answered. “What’s that?” They asked, as faces began to pop into my mind of friends who died in the desert at what should have been the start of the rest of their life, not the end.

I didn’t want to tell my children. I don’t want them to know about war yet. I want to preserve their youthful innocence for as long as I can. But the question was asked and it isn’t my job to shield them from truth. My job is to answer the tough questions and walk with them through the hard truths of this world. It’s my job to prepare them for reality, not keep them suspended in fantasy.

I want to raise children who see the world in all it’s broken beauty, who reach out to help, and serve, and even sacrifice for their neighbors. And so we approach Memorial Day with that same outlook.

The broken of this world is that evil exists and war is truly horrific. The beauty is that good men and women outnumber the evil and, throughout history, have been willing to die so that others might live.

So that’s how I answer my children. Memorial Day is a day we set aside to remember the men and women who have died so that we might live. It’s the day we honor the broken beauty of their sacrifice.

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My husband is giving the prayer at a local Memorial Day ceremony and asked me to read it over beforehand. I read this portion with my children this morning…

 We ask, oh God, for your Spirit of comfort to draw especially close in these moments to the families who have lost loved ones in sacrifice for our freedom.  It is these sacrifices and selfless acts of love for the people of this nation that we honor.  This morning, we remember them. 

 This morning, we remember the fathers and mothers who have left children behind.  We remember the husbands and wives who have left spouses behind.  We remember the brothers and sisters who have left siblings behind.  We remember the sons and daughters who left parents behind.

 God, we remember the truth that there is no greater love than the kind of love displayed by our service members in laying down their lives for the sake of their friends – their families, their neighbors, their fellow man. 

 We pray that their memory might live on in our own lives and hearts, as we seek to emulate their honor, courage, selfless sacrifice, and love.  So bless the memory of those we gather to reflect upon.  May we reflect upon their sacrifice and duty, remember their devotion to our nation, and call attention to their selfless acts of greatest love in a manner that brings you honor and glory.

Amen.

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