It is kind of sad to watch what an increasingly secular society does to holidays. The word “holiday” comes from an Old English word meaning, “holy day, consecrated day, or religious anniversary.” Nonetheless, today, Christmas – the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – has become more about Santa Claus, flying reindeer (especially one with a red nose), and gifts. Tons and tons of gifts. Many school systems don’t even have a “Christmas Pageant” anymore. It’s now the “Winter Pageant.” Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. However, when you go to the store around Easter time, what do you see? Stuffed bunny animals, peeps marshmallow candy, chocolate eggs, malted eggs, egg-coloring kits, baskets, and jellybeans. I was on the website of a large box store to see what was available at Easter time, and they actually have a separate link titled “Religious Easter Items.” I’m not picking on them. I am truly not. They were doing what any successful retailer does – responding to their customers. Retailers simply want to make money. Sell stuff. As a result, stores would have far more “Religious Easter Items” to sell if that was what the public was clamoring to buy. Retailers accurately reflect the mood of us consumers.
Well, today is Memorial Day, and sadly, it too, over the years, has devolved into discounted merchandise. Try it. Google “Memorial Day Sales.” As I did, you will find links to save money on mattresses, furniture, automobiles, clothing, hardware, etc. The list is endless.
Look, I like to save money as much as the next guy, so I am not saying I will never buy a new sofa on sale on Memorial Day. I also love St. Nicholas and coloring Easter eggs. I just want to make sure that today we also take time to remember men like my great Uncle Stanley.
When the United States was attacked on December 7, 1941, and we entered the Second World War, my great Uncle Stanley Pianowski, my Grandpa’s brother, wanted to join the fight. So badly did Stanley want to defend freedom, he had to lie about his age, and he did so he could join the US Navy. Sadly, he was lost at sea. There is no record of his service because he also used a false name not wanting to be discovered as underage.
Christian history is littered with similar stories. Beginning with Jesus, the apostles, the martyrs, as well as many modern-day missionaries have long defended the faith so that we can be free to worship God without fear. After celebrating the Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus said to them, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” A new commandment to love one another. Then, just so everyone is clear what He means by loving each other, He follows with, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13). They do not know it yet, but Jesus is about to do just that on Calvary in the next twenty-four hours. We should never forget what Jesus did. That’s why we celebrate Christmas and Easter. Similarly, you may be surprised how many of us have a great Uncle Stanley story in our family history. People who fought and died so that we could remain free. We must never forget that is what today is really all about. If you can get a great price on a new car today, go for it! But, please, also take a moment to remember your friends who loved you enough to lay down their lives. People whose names and faces we will never know.
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