Memorial Day sparks stories of remembrance – Loveland Reporter-Herald

I used to think Memorial Day was just a fun three-day weekend at the end of May when families got together for barbecues, parades and baseball games to celebrate the end of the school year and the start of the summer holidays. Over time, my perspective broadened.

Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, was first observed on May 30, 1868 in honor of the 620,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War. That year, Americans began decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags; a tradition that continues today.

The unprecedented carnage of the Civil War accounts for just over half of the American lives lost in service to our country. We need to take the time to remember these brave men and women and recognize that they are more than names on a wall or statistics in a history book. They were beloved family members, close friends and immediate neighbors.

Memorial Day is a holiday to honor those we have loved and lost.

Casualties come in many forms and wars are fought on many fronts. We all know of family members or friends who have died in the midst of valiant battles with cancer or who have passed away after years of battling diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease or AIDS. Deaths caused by tragic accidents, violence and abuse, mental illness and suicide are particularly difficult.

We each have our own stories of remembrance this Memorial Day.

This weekend, I will remember my father, who proudly served in World War II, and my mother, who suffered from emphysema and died 44 years ago at the age of 55. I will also remember my husband, who died fighting a battle that became epidemic in America in the decade after his death.

Zenon suffered from chronic back pain and depression, two factors that prevented him from living a full life. His addiction to prescription painkillers for relief and his abuse of other controlled substances proved to be obstacles he could not overcome. My husband died of an opioid addiction at the age of 48.

If that was the end of the story, it would be really very sad, but Zeno was a follower of Christ. He loved to play guitar and sing. In the midst of chronic pain, he found great liberation in raising his heartfelt praise to God, and in doing so he touched thousands of lives for Christ. As a believer, Zeno may have lost the battle, but he didn’t lose the war. The victory is his in Jesus!

We are all engaged in some sort of battle. I found peace and healing in the lyrics of the song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle: “I’m trying to win this war, I admit it; My hands are tired, I need your rest; Mighty Warrior, king of combat; No matter what I’m facing, you’re by my side; You are my strength and my comfort; You are my steady hand; You are my firm foundation; The rock on which I stand; I will trust, I will trust, I will trust you.

There are days on the calendar when the promises of eternal life and sweet reunions are especially soothing. Memorial Day is one of those days. Let us take courage and be encouraged that those we have loved and lost are now in the loving arms of God.

God bless the small, innocent lives of the children killed in this week’s Texas elementary school shooting and the adults trying to protect them.

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