Barbeques will fire up. Pools will open. Welcome to the three-day weekend of Memorial Day. In the middle of family fun and the official welcome of the summer tourist season, please remember that some families are not so happy. They are dealing with the loss of a loved one who served in the military. For them, Memorial Day is sobering and a time to honor those who gave their lives in the service of their country.

Memorial Day is a time for all of us to remember. To mark the day, you can join people all around the country. At 3:00 p.m. in your time zone, pause and pray as this is the National Moment of Remembrance.

If your family has been touched by loss like mine has, you remember with tears and longing. When I lived close enough to my brother’s grave, we visited on Memorial Day. Usually, there was a small American flag placed on the stone.  Memories of his military funeral flood my mind when I look at that military gravesite.  I can still see his body shipped overseas from a foreign land, a closed coffin draped by the American flag and laid in the ground; the eerie sound of taps, and the jolt of the seven-gun salute. Earlier, are the memories of the military officer that appeared in our kitchen on a warm summer day to tell us my brother wasn’t coming home; the shock on the face of his wife when we had to tell her of his death; his two-year-old son who couldn’t understand where daddy was and why he won’t see him anymore; the second born child brought into this world without his father; and the gut wrenching tears and heartache we experienced as a family. Those memories do not go away, but the pain becomes bearable through the years.

This year, I urge you to take a momentary break from eating the hamburgers and hot dogs. Say a prayer for all the families who have experienced loss and mention the names of those who gave their lives for our freedom. Consider a donation to an organization that helps military families regroup from loss. Reach out to someone who is alone because of their loss. Just the acknowledgment that our service men and women are not forgotten goes a long way.

In addition, explain the significance of the day to your children. Fly the American flag at half-mast and visit a war museum or memorial. You can also place a red poppy on the grave of a veteran (a symbol of the blood of heroes that never dies) and pray for those still in harm’s way.

To my brother Gary, you are missed in ways I cannot express. Thank you for your willingness to put your life on the line so mine can remain free. And to the many that join me in remembering their loved ones, be comforted from the God who comforts us in our pain.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

We serve a God who understands our pain and loss. Matthew 5:4 reminds us that we will be comforted. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” And for that comfort I am grateful.

Honor the fallen