Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, in remembrance of those who died during the Civil War. The day was honored on the order of General John Alexander Logan. It was a time for decorating the graves with flowers.
When I was a child, “Decoration Day” was always a special day, not a day of celebration, but a day for remembering the deceased. We always went to the cemetery and left flowers as our silent tribute for those whom we loved and missed. After World War II, I began to hear more about Memorial Day and those who had died in all the wars.
Between the date of life and death, a short dash represents our brief time on this earth. Lucille Britt, had these words in her poem “The Dash Between The Dates”, when speaking of tombstone dates.
“Memorial Day was over now,
All had left and I was alone.
I began to read the names and dates
Chiseled there on every stone.
The dates which showed whether it was Mom or Dad
Or daughter or baby son.
The dates were different but the amount the same,
There were two on every one.
It was then I noticed something,
It was but a simple line;
It was the dash between the dates
Placed there, it stood for time.
All at once it dawned on me
How important that little line.
The dates placed there belonged to God,
But that line is yours and mine.
It’s God who gives this precious life
And God who takes away;
But that line between He gives to us
To do with what we may.
We know God’s written the first date down
Of each and every one,
And we know those hands will write again,
For the last date has to come.
We know He’ll write the last date down,
And soon, we know, for some.
But upon the line between my dates
I hope He’ll write ‘well done.’ ”
I grew up in an era and area when elderly family members were cared for at home. I never heard of a nursing home until I was in college. Family members took care of their elderly parents, often in their own house. We loved and cared for our own. They were our privileged responsibility.
In Biblical times, it was expected that the children would care for their parents. The wisest of men wrote, “Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old” (Proverbs 23:22). We are to love and respect our parents as long as they live.
With each passing year, I think more and more of parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, my wife, children and grandchildren and how very much they have enriched my life compared to the little I invested in them. Add to that, many dear friends in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, California and throughout the nation. They are also on every continent, in numerous countries and they speak many different languages.
What little I have invested in others, now rewards me with rich dividends for every day. Like yours, my time on this earth will be very brief and I have just a “dash” on eternity’s clock in which to do what God meant for me to do.
These are the things worth remembering. These people made a difference as I dashed from birth to death and into a never-ending eternity.
|Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books. He is also a widely known motivational speaker and pulpit guest who utilizes enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems makes him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.
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