Many Americans offer prayers for Memorial Day services. Prayers are an expression of gratitude and faith, and a practice recognized by people of a multitude belief of systems.
Memorial Day Readings, Poems, and Prayers
Whether you gather in a group setting or offer your prayers in solitude, you can confess gratitude, express your respect and honor those who served our country. In addition, you do not have to be a member of a religious affiliation or church. While a traditional prayer pose is achieved by bowing your head and folding your hands, you can pray in any fashion. Your prayers may consist of rhythmic poetry, time-honored scriptures or your own spontaneous words. Some individuals prefer to incorporate soft music to set the mood while others choose a silent atmosphere.
A Short Prayer for the Fallen
Psalm 27:3-4 says, "Though an army besieges me, my heart will not fear; though war breaks out against me, even then I will be confident. One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple." Today we bow our heads and our hearts to you, Lord, that we may remember those who paid the ultimate price by giving their lives for their country. We can never be grateful enough for the sacrifices made for our country and we are humbled by their willingness to put their own lives aside for the benefit of ours. Father, carve their sacrifices onto our hearts that we may never forget the loss of these heroes. We pray for this in the holy name of your son Jesus. Amen.
A Prayer for the Pursuit of Peace
Father, today we pause to reflect on the sacrifice made by those who paid the ultimate price on behalf of our nation. We pray that their sacrifices are never forgotten, nor is the pain of their families. We acknowledge that freedom comes at a cost and pray that we can pursue peace and someday celebrate Memorial Day as a long-ago memory of the time before we started living the peaceful existence you intended for us since the beginning of creation. Let us turn to you Lord, in our grief and in our remembrance of the fallen. Guide us toward a harmonious existence as we honor those who were willing to give up their lives that we may gather here today freely. On this Memorial Day, we pray for peace and for those who gave all. Lead up toward a world where no one must give their lives in pursuit of freedom - may we be receptive to your guidance and may we never forget the fallen.
A Memorial Day Prayer Poem
There's no comfort in battle
No joy in the field
Though exhausted and rattled,
Did they know their fate was sealed?
Did they know the end would come?
Were they scared or were they strong?
Were they willing to do it all for freedom?
Did they mutter, "No, this is wrong"?
No, they grasped the flag
They ran forth with no fear
Their bravery did not lag
They held their faith near
The Lord gave them strength
And held them close in His arms
They were willing to go the length
To rage forth despite alarms
Did they know it was the end?
Did they know their battle was lost?
They knew what they were willing to spend
And what would be the cost
Thank you, Lord for hearts that are brave
For sacrificial love and those who serve
We appreciate everything they gave
And their unshakeable nerve
Red Poppies on Memorial Day
Most individuals are familiar with the symbolism of the red poppy. Worn in commemoration of American veterans, the cheerful, cherry-colored flowers are a traditional emblem. Inspired by poem In Flanders Field, Moina Michaels, a war secretary, penned another poem, entitled We Shall Keep the Faith. She also donned the first poppy, in an effort to show her support. Still recognized today, the custom of placing poppies on your lapel is a silent way to say thank you to soldiers everywhere.
Other Ways to Observe Memorial Day
Aside from honoring a particular hero during a Memorial Day service, you can pay homage to a variety of soldiers every year in the following ways:
- Visit local cemeteries and place cards, flowers or other offerings on the graves of soldiers.
- Decorate your yard with small flags.
- Display a large flag and fly at half-staff.
- Visit veterans you know or those living in nursing homes or veterans' facilities.
- Recognize the widows and families of a veteran; offer your prayers and thanks.
History of Memorial Day
General John Logan officially proclaimed Memorial Day on May 5, 1868, though at that time it was called Declaration Day. Deemed a day of remembrance, its original purpose was to honor Civil War soldiers and all those who sacrificed and died while serving our nation. Today, the United States celebrates Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.
Reflections of Sacrifice
Prayers do not have to consist of eloquent verse or prose. Silent thoughts and moments of reflection are other meaningful ways to show respect and admiration for soldiers on Memorial Day. Spend some time meditating on the courage and self-sacrifice for which you are grateful. Warm thoughts and well wishes are among the many ways you may choose to pray.