O Lord, in this time of remembrance, we pause to thank you for the gift of forgetting. We thank you for the ability to set aside the cares and concerns of the past in order to deal effectively with the challenges of each new day, and make plans in the face of an uncertain future.

But Lord, we are concerned about our brothers and sisters who cannot do this. They are the ones for whom the sorrows and horrors of the past, especially in time of war, have become as a demon which will not leave them alone. For some of them, O Lord, memory is a plague which arises to smite them at inappropriate times and in unwelcome places. We pray for them, O Lord, that they may receive the blessing of forgetting.

But today, we are concerned with memory. We give thanks that special times have been set aside, and special places established, for the focus of our memory. We give thanks for your children, those in our families, those we have loved, and those with whom we have served, who you raised up to defend us in our hour of need. We celebrate those who spent their very lives in our defense. We celebrate them not because they were content to die, but because they wished passionately to live and love and be free. We celebrate the places where their flesh became spirit: Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, Belleau Wood, Normandy, Iwo Jima, Pork Chop Hill, Khe Sahn, Southwest Asia, and ten thousand other places where they fought and died. We mourn their loss in lonely graveyards and in great national cemeteries where whole armies lie at rest in formations which neither bend nor waver. We mourn those who lie in unmarked places, and in the vastness of the sea, and those whose bodies made no mark upon the earth.

O Lord, the grass has healed the ground where these, our comrades died. The sunshine of bright clear days has dried out tears. The thriving of great institutions has filled our minds, and the coming of new generations has lifted our hearts. These things, and the love our fallen brothers and sisters had for us are their legacy to us. We treasure them. We worship you, O God, who gave them to us, and in whose arms they sleep. And we remember.

Amen.

A Memorial Day Prayer ©Willard Hinkley 2016