“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” – James M. Barrie

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” – Bible

The Bible tells the story of Joshua leading the nation of Israel across the Jordan River. Joshua instructs 12 of his men to take 12 stones from the middle of the river and “carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”

He does this for the following reason: “In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.

When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

It is difficult to put into words the emotions we have when we remember those who died that we might live.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address does a good job of capturing an appropriate response on our part to their sacrifice. Here is a portion of his speech:

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Things haven't changed much. We are still struggling to bring that “new birth of freedom” to maturity.

Lincoln reminds us that we must honor those who gave their lives in service to our country, and he also exhorts us to remember that sacrifice that we might continue to fight for what they died for.

We remember what was heroically done in the past to encourage and inspire us as we move on into the future. Memorial Day is our way of building the pile of 12 stones.

When our children ask what Memorial Day is all about, we must tell them. Yes, it's about a holiday, parades, and fun times together, and more importantly it's about those people who gave the supreme sacrifice that we can have those times together.

None of us like war, and we may argue sometimes with the correctness of causes of the conflicts, but we must remember and pass on to our children the importance of taking a stand for what we believe is right.

A variety of people, including Dr. Martin Luther King are credited with something similar to the following quote “If you've got nothing worth dying for, then you've got nothing worth living for.”

In addition to passing on our children the importance of standing up for just causes, there is another reason for memories.

George Santayana, a well-known philosopher from years past, once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Memories in our own families play an important role. For some we remember with fondness and also for inspiration our parents, grandparents and others who had an influence on our lives. For others the memories may be painful.

Recalling bad memories and forgiving where forgiveness is needed may free us to have more joy in the present. Recalling good memories may encourage and inspire us to keep on keeping on as we move into the future.

Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Holocaust, was able to say “Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.”

The Family and Marriage Coalition of Aiken, Inc. (FAMCO) provides resources for you to succeed in your marriage and families. Roger Rollins, Executive Director, FAMCO, 803-640-4689, rogerrollins@aikenfamco.com, www.aikenfamco.com.