Joshua 4:3 “And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.”
Joshua 4:5-6 “That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel forever.”
It is critical to remember the trials, struggles, sacrifices, and victories of the past. These things remind us of God’s amazing presence and power, humble us regarding our own frail weaknesses, and motivate us to live up to the faithfulness of our forefathers. Our remembrance of Memorial Day provides us a prime time to reflect upon these timeless truths.
In the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides from around 400 BC, an Athenian leader named Pericles delivers a speech as a part of the Athenian Memorial Day.
To the loved ones of the fallen, Pericles charges the following:
“Wherefore I do not now pity the parents of the dead who stand here; I would rather comfort them. You know that your dead have passed away amid manifold vicissitudes; and that they may be deemed fortunate who have gained their utmost honor, whether an honorable death like theirs, or an honorable sorrow like yours, and whose share of happiness has been so ordered that the term of their happiness is likewise the term of their life.”
We too must be comforted by the lasting honorable sacrifice of the fallen and the ongoing sacrifice of the sorrow we provide for their loss.
Additionally, Pericles goes on to talk about the impacts of the sacrifice of the fallen throughout their national history:
“I will speak first of our ancestors, for it is right and seemly that now, when we are lamenting the dead, a tribute should be paid to their memory. There has never been a time when they did not inhabit this land, which by their valor they will have handed down from generation to generation, and we have received from them a free state. But if they were worthy of praise, still more were our fathers, who added to their inheritance, and after many a struggle transmitted to us their sons this great empire. And we ourselves assembled here today, who are still most of us in the vigor of life, have carried the work of improvement further, and have richly endowed our city with all things, so that she is sufficient for herself both in peace and war.”
We too must pay a tribute to the memory of our forefathers. After all, we have received a free state from them. Motivated by their memory, we must carry on the work of steady and constant improvement to make our land sufficient for herself both in peace and war.
PLEASE PRAY TO BE HUMBLED, HONORED, AND MOTIVATED BY THE SACRIFICE OF OUR FOREFATHERS. May we always uplift their sacrifice as an enduring memorial.