Memorial Day Facts and Prayers
May 31, 2021
Memorial Day is designated as the last Monday in May each year. It was formerly known as Decoration Day, as it was the day that the graves of those who had given their lives in service to their country were decorated with flags.
It is believed that this remembrance started at the close of the Civil War in May 1865, when freedmen and freedwomen gathered flowers to decorate the graves of the Union dead. In May od 1950. President Harry Truman, following a resolution by Congress, declared May 30 to be a day dedicated to praying for peace. In 1971, Memorial Day became an official federal holiday.
Memorial Day is often confused with Veterans' Day, but they are distinct holidays with their own histories and traditions. Memorial Day is primarily a day of remembrance for those who died in military service, which Veterans' Day is when the living are honored as well as the dead.
Memorial Day gets no mention in the Book of Common Prayer, and is not observed liturgically in the Episcopal Church. However, many of you may want to observe the day with prayer, which is fitting and right to do. This coming Monday is Memorial Day, and I offer these readings and prayers for use at home on this sacred day of remembrance.
The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life.
‘Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man. Prayers Prayer for One Who Has Died in Military or Public Safety Service, from Enriching Our Worship 3
God, the King of Glory, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give you thanks for [___, and ] all those who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant them your mercy and the light of your presence; give us a sense of your will and purpose, that we may understand that the work you have begun in them will be perfected through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, in whom all strife is resolved. Amen.
Prayer for Peace, from the Book of Common Prayer, p. 816
Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.