Reflections- Memorial Day – A day to remember

By Roger Campbell,
author, broadcaster and columnist
and a pastor for 22 years.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was first celebrated on May 30, 1868 on an order from General John Logan. In 1882, the name was changed to Memorial Day. Surprisingly, this day to honor loved ones who have died and to share in patriotic services didn’t become a national holiday until 1971.

Originally set aside as a day to honor those who gave their lives fighting for freedom, Memorial Day has now become a time for remembering all who went home before us and whose lives stir precious memories. Today, I will share a few thoughts about my mother in the hope that these very personal memories will prompt my readers to focus on good things in the lives of those they remember.

My mother, Gail Palmer Campbell, was born in 1903 in the house on the farm owned by her family since before the Civil War. She weighed three pounds. And without the aid of an incubator or other small baby savers used in hospitals today, she survived and outlived all the members of her immediate family, as well as many younger nieces and nephews.

When mother was three years old, her mother died so she was raised by her father and grandmother who were able to instill in her the ability to look for the best in people and in all she would face in life.

If you like to gossip and cut down others, you wouldn’t have enjoyed spending time with my mother. She was an expert at changing the subject when the faults of others came up in conversation. In the juiciest part of your slander, she’d likely walk to a window and say, “Isn’t it a beautiful day?”

I once told my wife, Pauline, that in all the years of our marriage, I had never heard my mother say one negative word about her.

“What’s to say?” she replied, laughing.

Mother would have enjoyed that exchange; constantly choosing laughter over criticism, convinced she didn’t have time to waste looking on the dark side of things. Maybe this persistent positive attitude is one of the reasons she lived nearly a century.

Psalm 27:1 is the first Bible verse I can remember hearing my mother quote: “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” This faith builder and others like it underlined in her well worn Bible enabled her to trust instead of tremble in the most difficult of circumstances.

Hymns were sources of great joy for mother, often bringing family members around her bed to sing to her when her strength was nearly gone and the days of her life were in the countdown stage. When I visited her the last time, I sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” one of her favorites.

Mother wasn’t perfect, but she was convinced she had a perfect Friend who would always be with her. She had placed her faith in Him and found Him faithful all the days of her long life. And on days when memories of better days with those you loved but lost get you down, He’ll do the same for you.

Roger Campbell is an author, broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached at rcministry@ameritech.net

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