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Memorial Day People Count Most of All

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Memorial Day-People Count Most Of All


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1 Corinthians 1:21-1:24 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)

Sermon Series: Memorial Day

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Ron was a fifteen-year-old teenager, a tenth-grade student at Granger High School. It was game day, and he was the only sophomore suiting up with the varsity team. Excitedly, he invited his mother to attend. It was her very first football game, and she promised to be there with several of her friends.

The game finally ended, and she was waiting outside the locker room to drive Ron home.

"What did you think of the game, Mom? Did you see the three touchdown passes our team made and our tough defense, and the fumble on the kickoff return that we recovered?" he asked.

His mother replied, "Ron, you were magnificent. You have such presence, and I was proud of the pride you took in the way you looked. You pulled up your knee socks eleven times during the game, and I could tell you were perspiring in all those bulky pads because you got eight drinks and splashed water on your face twice.

“I really like how you went out of you way to pat number nineteen, number five and number ninety on the back every time they came off the field."

"Mom, how do you know all that? And how can you say I was magnificent? I didn’t even play in the game."

His mother smiled and hugged him. "Ron, I don’t know anything about football. I didn’t come here to watch the game. I came here to watch you!"

The moral of that story is: PEOPLE COUNT MOST OF ALL! Football is fine. Football is fantastic for some people. But people are supreme! People are more important than football.

Here’s another way to look at it:

One time the popular actress Sophia Loren sobbed to her Italian movie director, Vittorio De Sica, over the theft of some of her jewelry. And he said to her, “Listen to me, Sophia. I am much older than you and, if there is one great truth I have learned about life, it is this: NEVER CRY OVER ANYTHING THAT CAN’T CRY OVER YOU!”

What a lesson! Have you learned that lesson in life - People are more important than things! People are more important than cars and computers. People are more important than houses and furniture. People are more important than all material things!

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a time for remembering people who were important in our lives. Since 1971 Memorial Day has been observed annually on the last Monday in May. The purpose is to honor the nation’s military personnel killed in wartime.

The holiday was called Decoration Day at first, because people decorated soldiers’ graves with flowers and flags on that day. Today it is also marked by parades, memorial speeches and ceremonies.

Waterloo, New York, was the birthplace of Memorial Day.

On May 5, 1866, the people of Waterloo placed flowers on the graves of northern soldiers who had died in the Civil War. In 1868, Major General John Logan declared May 30 as a day for honoring soldiers who had died fighting for the North.

A lot of meaning is attached to decorating graves.

After World War I ended, in 1918, Decoration Day became a day to remember everyone who died fighting in U.S. wars - the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World War I. The observation now also includes World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

And I remember rural churches that had a big event on what they called Decoration Day, a time to place flowers on the graves of loved ones and remember them.

Let us take a close look at lives that are most important to us today.


Peter and John were arrested for healing a lame man at the temple. At the trial, “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of our people, are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed?

“’Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.

“’There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved’” (Acts 4:8-12 NLT).

Not everyone accepts the freedom offered in Christ, just as many do not properly use the freedom in this nation, which others died to provide for them. Paul said:

“Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom.

“So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (I Cor. 1:21-24 NLT).

But some value their spiritual life and liberty. “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him (II Cor. 5:17-18 NLT).

“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us.

“We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (II Cor. 5:17-21 NLT).


Many of us in this congregation have parents who are deceased. Have you reflected and given thanks for the positive impact they had on your life? One year we put flowers on the altar in memory of my wife’s parents. Barbara wrote a tribute to them and shared it with you.

For the funerals of each of my parents I wrote a tribute, which was read during the service. I thank God weekly for the influence of my parents in pointing me to Christ.

At the same time, have you faced up to the negative influence your parent(s) had on you? I had some issues with my mother. She had a servant spirit, but she administered that in a domineering and controlling manner. I had to face that honestly in order to be emotionally strong and free of it. I am healed of that, because I can remember it as historical fact without being disabled by it.

Most likely some of you here today need counseling about similar situations in order to forgive and to receive healing of the memories. That would prevent your living in bondage, and perhaps negatively influencing your relationships with your spouses and other relatives and friends. It would help to prevent your passing on those same errors to your children.

For some that process may involve deceased spouses. Some should seek to rectify bad memories; others should rejoice and give thanks to God for loving, cherishing, spiritual, responsible spouses that were your strength and mainstay.

Jake Hess said his wife laughed at him the first time he asked her to marry him. She explained how he asked her: “Would you like to be buried with my people?” (Certainly a unique proposal.) I don’t spend a lot of time in cemeteries. But when I have a funeral in Newbern and we bury in Fairview Cemetery, I will walk from section to section.

Papa’s family is buried in Poplar Grove Cemetery on another side of town. But in Fairview I can walk to the section where my mother’s people, the Johnsons, are buried. Then to the section where my grandmother’s people, the Lucases, are buried. And I remember, and I’m grateful for having known those people.

I reflect on the memory of college and seminary classmates, and recall their influence on my life. I think of my fathers in the faith – Ernest Cross, A.D. Saulsbury,Sr., E. R. Ladd, George McIlwain, L.C. Waddle.. And especially Milford Smith, whom I loved like a father. And I am better off for having known them.


I have read that on an average day about 750 people will visit the USS Arizona in Hawaii and on Memorial Day weekend about 4,600 people will visit that memorial.

And on an average day some 3,000 people will visit the Vietnam War Memorial and on Memorial Day weekend 7,600 people will visit it.

God bless those who remember our deceased veterans. God bless those who remember any of their deceased loved ones! People count. People are what life is all about. People have contributed greatly to our lives and we need to remember them!

We need to look back and remember people. We need to remember the people who made an impact on our lives.

The American military through several wars and several centuries have preserved liberty for U.S. citizens and others abroad. Many times there is a great price attached to their service.

Someone sent me two pictures that were awarded first and second place at the Picture of the Year International in 2005. The first place photo was of 2nd Lt. James Cathey’s body being unloaded off of the plane at the Reno Airport.

Todd Heisler of The Rocky Mountain News: When 2nd Lt. James Cathey’s body arrived at the Reno Airport, Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac.

During the arrival of another Marine’s casket last year at Denver International Airport, Major Steve Beck described the scene as one of the most powerful in the process: "See the people in the windows? They’ll sit right there in the plane, watching those Marines.

“You gotta wonder what’s going through their minds, knowing that they’re on the plane that brought him home," he said. "They’re going to remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They’re going to remember bringing that Marine home. And they should."

The second picture was of Lt. Cathey’s widow sleeping on the floor in front of her husband’s casket.

Todd Heisler of The Rocky Mountain News: The night before the burial of her husband’s body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag.

Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of ’Cat,’ and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. "I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it," she said. "I think that’s what he would have wanted."

Subject: Soldiers’ Funeral (Texas Style)- Email courtesy of Richard Johnson & Ray Wallace.

Vicki Pierce wrote about the funeral for her nephew James, who served our country in Iraq:

"I’m back, it was certainly a quick trip, but I have to also say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There is a lot to be said for growing up in a small town in Texas. The service itself was impressive with wonderful flowers and sprays, a portrait of James, his uniform and boots, his awards and ribbons. There was lots of military brass. There were easily 1000 people at the service, filling the church sanctuary as well as the fellowship hall and spilling out into the parking lot.

However, the most incredible thing was what happened following the service on the way to the cemetery.

We went to our cars and drove to the cemetery escorted by at least 10 police cars with lights flashing and some other emergency vehicles, with Texas Rangers handling traffic.

Everyone on the road who was not in the procession, pulled over, got out of their cars, and stood silently and respectfully, some put their hands over their hearts.

When we turned off the highway suddenly there were teenage boys along both sides of the street about every 20 feet or so, all holding large American flags on long flag poles, and again with their hands on their hearts.

We thought at first it was the Boy Scouts or 4H club or something, but it continued .... for two and a half miles. Hundreds of young people, standing silently on the side of the road with flags.

At one point we passed an elementary school, and all the children were outside, shoulder to shoulder holding flags – kindergartners, handicapped, teachers, staff, everyone.

Some held signs of love and support. Then came teenage girls and younger boys, all holding flags. Then adults. Then families.

All standing silently on the side of the road. No one spoke, not even the very young children.

The military presence - at least two generals, a fist full of colonels, and representatives from every branch of the service, plus the color guard which attended James, and some who served with him ... was very impressive and respectful, but the love and pride from this community who had lost one of their own was the most amazing thing I’ve ever been privileged to witness.

Arlington National Cemetery - Each years some 5,000 wreaths decorate the graves in Arlington National cemetery. The wreaths are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine. The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He’s done this since 1992. A wonderful guy.

I didn’t see this in the newspaper or on the news on TV. Did you? Once again "good" is not being made public. Only those of us who have email get to enjoy wonderful sights such as this.

More about the wreaths - Most years, groups of Maine school kids combine an educational trip to DC with this event to help out. Making this even more remarkable is the fact that Harrington is in one the poorest parts of the state.

Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell.

CONC.: What is a Vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She (or he) is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn’t come back AT ALL.

He is the Parris Island drill instructor who has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs.

He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being - a person who offered some of his life’s most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say “Thank you.” That’s all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU."

Do you understand these words of Jesus? “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).

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