Memorial Day

Ann Swanson

Memorial Day is a day that has to be shared with young people today in order for them to fully appreciate it. Several years ago, I did the address at the Fentonville Cemetery. I went prepared to talk to the young people as well as the rest of the people who came.

I was delighted that there were families there. Families were sharing the day. We even had lunch, a tureen, after the procession following the Frewsburg band to the cemetery.

When I taught school, I made sure that the children learned a little about Memorial Day. When I was growing up, I remember it being called Decoration Day. It got its name because families went to area cemeteries and planted things in memory of those who died.

I went to the cemetery with my mother and my grandmother and grandfather. We visited all of the family graves planting things by everyone. I still remember where the great-grandparents graves are. When I visit my hometown, I always take time to visit the cemeteries. On one trip I took my lunch when I visited and ate it in my car while I looked at the graves.

I always liked the cemetery in Fredonia better than the cemetery in Dunkirk. In Dunkirk, they have stones sunk into the ground. Many have them have really sunk. I try to refresh them when I visit but unless I have the equipment I am at a loss.

Fredonia always had a service. I remember the salute given with rifles by the local veterans. I was young, but I remember. One year, I was taking an exam at college when the band went out. It was my physics final. I took a moment out of my time to honor the veterans because that is what I was used to doing.

That being said, today I want to share the words of a song that spoke to me. I have never really heard the song, but the words are powerful. I hope they speak to you, too.

What Did He Die For

He was twenty-one in 1944

He was hope ad he was courage on a lonely shore

Sent there by a mother with love beyond her tears

Just a young American who chose to rise above his fears

And as I watch him struggle up that hill

Without a thought of turning back

I cannot help but wonder

What did he die for?

When he died for you and me

Made the sacrifice

So that we could all be free

I believe we will answer each to heaven

For the way we spend a priceless liberty

Look inside and ask the question

What did he die for?

When he died for me

To the darkest day in A.D. 33

Came the mercy and compassion of eternity

Sent there by a Father with love beyond His tears

Blameless One, the only Son

To bear the guilt of all these years

And as I watch Him struggle up that hill

Without a thought of turning back

I cannot help but wonder

What did he die for?

When He died for you and me

Made the sacrifice

So that we could all be free

I believe we will answer each to heaven

For the way we spend a price liberty

Look inside and ask the question

What did he die for?

He died for freedom

He died for love

And all things we do not pay Him back

Could never be enough

What did He die for?

When He died for you and me

Made the sacrifice

So that we could all be free

I believe we will answer each to heaven

For the way we spend a price liberty

Look inside and ask the question

What did he die for?

When He died for me.

I heard this song during a memorial address two years ago when my grandson played in the band. I knew then that it had a powerful message. As the soldier died to set us free, so did Jesus Christ. We owe a debt of gratitude to the soldier and his family as well as to our Lord and Savior.

Take time to train the next generation so that all will not be lost. Take the children and grandchildren to a service on Memorial Day. Let them learn the real message of Memorial Day.

The year my husband died I took my granddaughter to the cemetery with me. She tugged on my pants leg when they read my husband’s name. “That was grandpa,” she said. Although she was not yet four, she was listening. Her mother and father were at the hospital welcoming a little brother. Today that little brother is seventeen. Happy Birthday, Jared.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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