Bishop Caggiano Reflects on Memorial Day

As we begin to celebrate the “unofficial start” of the summer season this Memorial Day weekend, it may be good for each of us to pause and reflect upon the family that we form as a country. It is a family that certainly faces many challenges for which there are no easy answers. It is also a family that must rediscover and recommit itself to the values upon which our nation was built and without which we cannot find true unity and prosperity for all its members. However, it is also a family worth recommitting ourselves to strengthen and heal.

Memorial Day ask us as a national family to recognize and honor the hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens who died in service and defense of our country. Our current national holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, began soon after the end of the Civil War that was fought to end the evil and crime of slavery and to build the unity of our national family based on true equality and justice. For those who died in the line of duty, their self-sacrifice was love at its purest because it did not seek one’s own personal interests or even safety. Rather, it was a true, complete surrender of oneself for the sake of one’s neighbors and fellow citizens back home. They sacrificed their lives for countless people whose names they would never know. When we think of heroes, we remember these brave members of our national family who have died to keep us free.

As our nation struggles to face the challenges of our own age, the starting point for a true national renewal must begin in the same place as did the heroes we honor this weekend. As we struggle to protect all human life, especially unborn life, try to serve the needs of the poor or disenfranchised, seek ways to strengthen education and employment, work on improving our national harmony or work to protect our national resources, we will make no progress if we start from a vantage point of “my self-interest” or “what is best for me.” If we start with our own self-interest, we will accomplish nothing.

The men and women who died for our country did not seek self-interest when they sacrificed their lives for you and me, to protect our national family. If we wish to honor them this weekend, let us have the courage to follow their example and love each other as they loved us.

Prayer for Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)

God of power and mercy,
you destroy war and put down earthly pride.
Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears,
that we may all deserve to be called your sons and daughters.
Keep in your mercy those men and women
who have died in the cause of freedom
and bring them safely
into your kingdom of justice and peace.
We ask this though Jesus Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen

from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

Memorial Day Mass @ St. Andrew

Photos by Amy Mortensen