We have just celebrated Memorial Day with parades, services in cemeteries, picnics and a Monday off with pay. Leading up to Memorial Day, the Veterans of Foreign Wars are out selling the little paper poppies to raise money for their support programs.
There may be some people who don't know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and it was started to remember the brave men and women who died serving the country in some type of military service.
I don't know about you but I have always liked the idea of Memorial Day. I can remember being taken to the Bedford Cemetery on Broadway Avenue as a child to watch the parade in the Cleveland suburb. We put flags on the graves of our family members who had served in the military. Then we would stand and watch the parades and wave at the people going by.
We also bought the little paper poppies and were told what they symbolized. There is a poem written in 1915 by Moina Michael that shares those thoughts:
''We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.''
The poppies remind us of the blood that was shed on fields of battle. Some brave men and women have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.
I remember talking with a veteran who served in the Marines and was wounded in the battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. He told me the real heroes died in the battle.
You see, sometimes we forget what others have done for us. Memorial Day is not just a day off from work and time for a picnic. It is a time to stop and remember and give some respect and honor to others who certainly deserve it.
In Washington, D.C., we have a Tomb to the Unknown Soldier that is guarded at all times by a sentinel. I have had the opportunity to go there and visit it. When I was there, I was too young to fully understand the significance of that place. I gained a little more respect for it and the duties of the sentinel as I got older.
The person who serves as a sentinel has a creed that they are to serve by. The words are full of meaning.
''My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted. In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter. And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection.
''Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability. It is he who commands the respect I protect, his bravery that made us so proud.
''Surrounded by well-meaning crowds by day, alone in the thoughtful peace of night, this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.''
It is something to think about isn't it? This holiday with the parades, floats and memorial services is here for us to remember the price others have paid for our freedoms. Sometimes it is good to be reminded what some of our national symbols mean.
In closing, I want to thank all the brave men and women who have served our country in any branch of the military and their families who have also sacrificed.
Mazey is a Trumbull County pastor.