Devotional 5/22/2020

Memorial Day always makes me feel reflective and it reminds me of high school band.  

I was in band from 5th-12th grade and marching band from 7th-12th grade.  From 9th-12th grade, I was part of the Color Guard/Flag line rather than marching with an instrument.  I attended a consolidated district, so on Memorial day we marched in two separate parades.  We would gather at the high school located in North Jackson, march its over 1 mile parade, listen to the speakers in the cemetery, and play taps.  Then we loaded up in the buses and went to Lake Milton to march in parade 2.  This one was up some ridiculous hills.  Then we would stand at another ceremony this one at an American Legion (or VFW, my brain is not working fast today- old age!).  Then we would be fed hot dogs that for some reason always had a greenish tint before finally being released for the day.  

For flag line, we always marched Color Guard for the parades.  Which basically meant we stood in straight lines holding flags, marched in straight lines holding flags, occasionally on one really hot day passed out while in straight lines holding flags (not me but 2 of our 7 did!).  It could be monotonous, but we always took it very serious.  Not because we were serious- normally we were quite the opposite and were not widely known for our discipline or work ethic.  

Rather we took it serious because of a talk we got my freshman year.  We had inquired why we could not take our regular flags and twirl for the parades.  It would be way more fun and there were flags at both sites so they did not need our flags.  Our band director gathered us up and talked to us about why we would always march color guard.  We all loved him and it was rare he called us to a pow wow, just us.  I do not remember his exact words but he calmly told us that this was a day which deserved a certain amount of respect.  That people had given their lives for us, and the least we could do was to be somber and proudly carry flags that fly due to the dedication and sacrifice.   I fail to do justice to his message but in love he reminded us that this was a small gesture we could do for them.  

And he never had to regive that talk.  From that point forward, we made sure all knew members of our group knew that we did not play during these times.  From the moment we put our flags in the holder until we were relieved of them, we were serious.  We moved with precision and determination.  We were complemented more on how we carried those flags than any other complicated routine we ever twirled. And the weird thing is that we had fun doing it.  We had lots of fun other times laughing, joking around and showing off our skill.  But on Memorial Day we had fun because we had pride and respect- respect for those who had fallen and pride enough to act accordingly.  

I know it is disappointing this year that there will not be parades and bbqs and large family parties.  I feel that too.  But there should be no lack of focusing on what the true point of this holiday is.   This holiday should not be about parades or even ourselves.  To remember them is the least we can do with or without a ceremony.  To remember those who have sacrificed and those who grieve them.  To show respect for them and to be proud of who they were.  And likewise, it is to celebrate that we know for them that life does not end at the grave.  That they have seen an end to war and violence and are embraced in God's loving arms.  May we never forget the sacrifices made for us, both by humans and by Jesus who ensured that death would not win and that the grave would be defeated. 

So I hope you celebrate Memorial Day with prayers and remembrance, with pride and respect, and with most of all faith and hope.  

Beth