Growing up in Van Horne, Iowa, (a small town of around 600 people not far from Cedar Rapids) we celebrated all of the major holidays, many “minor” holidays, and all of the patriotic holidays. I remember our town having a parade down Main Street for the 4th of July that included the American Legion vets marching, firetrucks, tractors and homemade floats. That year, Mike Geater and his dad used cardboard to build an army tank body onto his riding lawnmower with the slogan painted on the side, “I’d rather fight than switch.” That same year my mom made me into a big firecracker out of a roll-up window shade painted red around some hoops and chicken wire. On Flag Day everyone proudly flew their flags. On Memorial Day everyone wore poppies and there was a special service held that morning in the school gym. When I was in first grade, my sister was asked to sing a solo at this event. Susie was in 8th grade and sang the song, “My Buddy”. I still remember the words to the first verse and chorus. What a random collection of memories to which I’ve just subjected you. Sorry, I’ll refocus.
Through the years, I don’t think I ever really grasped the significance of patriotic holidays or the true meaning of Memorial Day. I was like many who viewed Memorial Day as a day off of school and later a day off of work as well as the beginning of summer. In the past few years that all changed for me when two former IRCS students lost their lives on the battlefield. Alumni Corporal Frank Gross and Staff Sergeant Matt Sitton both died while serving their country with the US Army in Afghanistan. Frank was killed on July 16, 2011, after serving just one month there. Matt was killed on August 2, 2012, one month before he was set to return from his third tour. Both of these men graduated from IRCS in the class of 2004. Both were outstanding baseball players for the Golden Eagles. Frank set all of our baseball pitching records and Matt all of our hitting marks. Both went to the Dominican Republic on a baseball mission trip twice during high school. I had the privilege of handing both of them there high school diploma and giving the congratulatory hug that goes with it. Both went on to play college baseball. Both had a great sense of humor, loved life, and lived it to its fullest. Both had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and knew him as their Savior. To the families of Frank and Matt, Memorial Day has a much more significant meaning. Since the holiday began with the placing of flowers on the graves of soldiers, I thought it might be appropriate to share with you where Frank and Matt were laid to rest. When soldiers are deployed to a war zone they fill out a card of their last wishes. One of the preferences listed is where they would be buried in the event of being killed in action. Frank chose the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery. Matt chose the serenity of the Memorial Garden, right here on the property of the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Frank and Matt.
May we never forget.
On Memorial Day, the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks will be observing this holiday with a special service in our Fellowship Center. The service is scheduled to go from 10:00 - 11:00 am. We invite everyone to come out and be a part of this special time of rememberance.
Here is a short history on the origin of Memorial Day:
Originally set for May 30 of each year, the date became a floating holiday as a part of the National Holiday Act of 1971. Now it is observed on the last Monday of May each year. Many people of military background felt that this move diminished the significance of the holiday. Truly, many Americans probably don’t understand the meaning and history of Memorial Day. The day differs from Veterans Day in November, when the nation pauses to remember all its members of the armed forces.
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for the more than 1.8 million Americans who have died in our nation's service. The day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.