After the Civil War as early as 1868 towns began to take a day in May to remember the fallen on both sides of the conflict by placing flowers on the graves of those who died in battle or as a result of injuries sustained in battle. By 1890, Decoration Day had spread across the nation, although many former Confederate States observed it on a different day than Union States. These separate Decoration Days lasted until after WWI when the two days combined and by 1968 the name was officially changed to Memorial Day and in 1971 became a Federal Holiday.
As Memorial Day approaches, I thought about one of my favorite movies of all time, “Sergeant York.” The inspiration for the film is the life and diary of World War I Medal of Honor recipient, Alvin York of Tennessee. Young Alvin lived a hard life that lead to hard drinking and a mean streak, despite a “saintly” mother. The preacher where his mother worships tries to convince Alvin that he needs “religion.” Alvin resists, but soon meets a young lady who sets him on a path to improve his life. Part of that improvement leads to his conversion at the Church of Christ in Christian Union where his mother and intended worship. Alvin becomes involved in the little congregation and begins studying the Bible regularly. He wants to be a good person. Then comes the conflict that sets the rest of the story. World War I and the draft.
Alvin does not want to enter the draft, he does not want to go to war. His reasoning to the preacher is simple. “War is for killin’. The Book is agin killin’.” As Alvin sees it “War is agin’ the Book.” After this explanation, the preacher observes, “You have the living kind of religion not the meeting house kind.”
The LIVING KIND of religion. What kind of religion do you have? Do you allow the word of God to impact your daily life or do you simply have “the meeting house kind?” Let me encourage you to learn “to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21).