Every year the soldiers of the Third United States Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard") take part in the ceremony called Flags In. Just before Memorial Day, each grave in Arlington National Cemetery is decorated with a small American flag. The flags remain in place until the conclusion of the Memorial Day Weekend when they are all removed. It is the only time during the year when American flags are permitted at all grave sites in the Cemetery.
Here are two prayers for Memorial Day. One from my friend Alden Solovy's fine page, To Bend Light and one of my own.
To the Soldier, To the Veteran
These things I do not know:
The sound of a bullet.
The power of a blast.
The blood of a comrade.
The depth of your wound.
The terror at midnight.
The dread at dawn.
Your fear or your pain.
These things I know:
The sound of your honor.
The power of your courage.
The blood of your wound.
The depth of your strength.
The terror that binds you.
The dread that remains.
Your dignity and your valor.
For these things we pray:
The sound of your laughter.
The power of your voice.
The blood of your yearning.
The depth of your healing.
The joy that frees you.
The hope that remains.
Your wholeness and your love.
- by Alden Solovy at ToBendLight
Memorial Day Prayer
In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,
let each of us name and call on the One whose power over us
is great and gentle, firm and forgiving, holy and healing...
You who created us,
who sustain us,
who call us to live in peace,
hear our prayer today.
Hear our prayer for all who have died,
whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone…
Hear our prayer for those who put the welfare of others ahead of their own
and give us hearts as generous as theirs…
Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives in the service of others,
and accept the gift of their sacrifice…
Help us to shape and make a world
where we will lay down the arms of war
and turn our swords into ploughshares for a harvest of justice and peace…
Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones
and let your healing be the hope in our hearts...
Hear our prayer today
and in your mercy answer us
in the name of all that is holy.
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