Memorial Day | JOY for Today

(Updated 5/26/2023)

Memorial Day is not just a day to remember the fallen, but a day to commit to carrying on in their footsteps. What fallen heroes' memories do you honor? What contribution obtained by their bravery and sacrifice brings you joy? How might you continue their labor? Answering these questions and committing to the fight are surefire ways for joy to burst through in your life.

A red poppy with a sky background. Sunlight streaming down. Text overlay reads: "Memorial Day; May 30, 2022; 'Remember your leaders. They taught God's message to you. Remember how they lived and died, and copy their faith.' Hebrews 13:7"
Remembrance Day: In Flanders Fields by Chuchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist

Memorial Day Offerings:

Did You Know:

  1. Memorial Day began after the Civil War? The Civil War claimed more American lives than any other war and many communities started holding ceremonies to honor lives lost each spring. The ceremonies consisted of graveside flower arrangements and prayers to honor the fallen. (
  2. Waterloo, New York is considered the official birthplace of Memorial Day? The idea of honoring fallen soldiers annually is credited to Henry C. Welles and was hardily supported by passionate patriot and Civil War veteran General John B. Murray. On May 5, 1866, Waterloo, New York flew flags at half mast, draped the town in evergreens, and decorated with black to represent mourning. To the beat of martial music, local citizens marched to each cemetery and decorated graves of fallen soldiers. Similar proceedings occur annually in Waterloo.  (Waterloo Library and Historic Society)
  3. At 3:00 PM local time each Memorial Day there is a national moment of remembrance? Initiated by President Clinton, the specific time designation was to encourage all Americans to take a 1-minute moment of reflection for the fallen soldiers. (Memorial Day Foundation)
  4. A red poppy is often worn to honor the fallen because of a poem? World War I soldier, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae of Canada, wrote "In Flanders Fields" (links to Poetry Foundation) where red poppies springing up among fallen soldiers' graves symbolize a request for the living to continue the fight. Moina Michael responded in "We Shall Keep the Faith," (links to Great War) a poem of her own, with a commitment to wear poppies and teach the lessons learned. Now red poppies honor fallen soldiers worldwide. (
  5. The traditional Memorial Day barbecue is more about summer than fallen soldiers? We get together on Memorial Day to grill and enjoy good company in recognition of summer's unofficial start. Partially because it's a three-day weekend, and partially because it's near summer's start - but rarely to honor the fallen. (

We'd Love to Know:

Which fact was new to you?

Wolfe Stew Connects

While Memorial Day is meant to preserve our memories of fallen soldiers, I posit that each of us is a soldier who one day will fall and has a story to tell. Take time to consider someone you've lost and consider their fight. Was it a fight of faith, freedom, or family? What did they stand for? How are you carrying on in their footsteps?

To reflect on your life story, Soldier, on the fights you're facing, browse through your pictures. What fight does each picture represent? Does your fight honor the fallen soldiers in your life? As I glance back through my photos, three fights stick out to me:
  • The Faithfulness Fight: Each time I look at the Mr. and I exchanging our wedding vows, I'm flooded in tenderness and experience a recommitment to the Mr. Marriage is not always easy; it is a fight. But this picture reminds me of my commitment to faithfulness: he is the one I will walk through this life with, the one I grow with, and the one who shares in my laughter and tears. My fight is to together shape this relationship into one God intended: a reflection of His love for the church (Ephesians 5:21-33).
  • The Fight for the Next Generation: A picture of my nephew in a suitcase reminds me that my direction, my dedication, and my protection is required for this vulnerable child of God. I must step up to fight for the next generation: to train them in God's ways, to not shy away from this task, to encourage them in the ways of Godliness, and to pray endlessly for their protection and connection. My fight is to inspire the future and prepare the way of the Lord (Isaiah 40:1-11).
  • The Fight for Fulfillment: The numerous goofy pictures on my phone remind me not to take life too seriously. None of us are perfect. Not one. God wants us to enjoy life, to experience heaven on earth. Eternity starts now. My fight is to enjoy every moment, to choose beauty over ashes, joy over mourning, and praise over heaviness (Isaiah 61).
Pictures though, are just one type of memorial. God, historically, asked His people to keep memorials. A few examples include the rainbow that signifies God's promise (Genesis 9:8-16), the twelve stacked stones after the Israelites crossed the Jordan River (Joshua 4:1-8), and the bread and the wine in the Lord's Supper (I Corinthians 11:23-25). God longs for us to remember what He's done both then and now (Psalm 77:11).  

Do you keep your own memorials - items or rituals that help you remember the goodness of God? Because, the truth is, your fight matters and God wants you to tell others about it. In fact, it contributes to our victory (Revelation 12:11). You see, your fight is not new. It began a long time ago (Revelation 12:7-9). You are picking up the torch of your ancestors (Isaiah 51:1). So, fight the good fight, Soldier. Keep the faith. Live a life of honor to Our King.

And know you're not alone. We're with you in this fight, Warrior. To help you feel battle-ready, we've crafted a GROWTH for Today Calendar with daily exercises to encourage you in the fight. In May, we're learning to accurately identify our battles and call out our true enemy. In June, we'll practice seeing our circumstances from God's perspective. If you're ready to train with us, we'd love to have you. Pick up your torch, Warrior. We need you!

We'd Love to Know:

What battles do your pictures represent?

Memorial Day Bible Verses and Quotes 


  • "Listen to me, you people who pursue righteousness, you people who seek the Lord! Look confidently to the rock from which you were hewn and the quarry from which you were cut." Isaiah 51:1 EHV
  • "Remember your leaders. They taught God's message to you. Remember how they lived and died, and copy their faith." Hebrews 13:7 ERV
  • "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." Psalm 116:15 KJV
  • "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 KJV
  • "And when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.'" I Corinthians 11:24 KJV


  • "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." - Joseph Campbell
  • "It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle." - Norman Schqarzkopf
  • "The brave die never, though they sleep in dust, their courage nerves a thousand living men." - Minot J. Savage 
  • "We kept the faith and fought the fight; The glory theirs, the duty ours." - Wallace Bruce
  • "We honor the dead best by treating the living well." - Jennifer M. Granholm

We'd Love to Know:

Which verse or quote do you wish to hold in your memory?

Memorial Day Activity Suggestions

Keep in mind that more than respect for country, Memorial Day exists to honor fallen soldiers. To recognize the bravery of those who came before us and to ignite bravery in the current generation.

Our Nephew's Suggestion:

"Dress like a soldier." We're thinking camouflage, nerf guns, and snow boots for this one (more ideas at Veterans United). 

Our Suggestions:

  • Read and discuss "In Flanders Fields" and "We Shall Keep the Faith"
  • Craft red poppies:
  • Have a barbecue. 
    • Enjoy the classics: hamburgers, hot dogs, and corn-on-the-cob. Or offer suggestions. What are you cooking this Memorial Day?
    • Take a moment to honor the fallen soldiers whose torches we now bear. 
    • Make memorials of your own. (Take pictures.)

We'd Love to Know: 

An activity you would add to our list.

We’re excited to share one more day with you and wish you JOY for Today and HOPE for Tomorrow. Check in next week for...Hot Air Balloon Day!

Fighting the Good Fight with You,

Red stew bowl with steam rising from top. Wolfe Stew crawled on front.

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Find even more JOY for Today in our monthly calendars, holiday, and seasonal posts.


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