Monday, May 25, 2009

Your Congregation and Memorial Day

I am very curious to hear how your congregations handle Memorial Day. I am always disappointed that mine holds its annual Animal Blessing that day. I am not at all against animal blessings, but couldn't that be held on another weekend? Our fallen veteran's deserve a to be recognized in our services. Many of our congregants are veteran's, have family members who are veterans (my family included), and without them we would not enjoy the freedoms we have today - including freedom of religious thought. Are Memorial Day services standard in your congregations? Maybe mine is just an anomaly? I send out all my heartfelt thanks to the men and women who chose to put their life on the line to protect my freedoms. Thank You!


ms. kitty said...

My congregation had a service with the theme of a Ceremony of Memories. We honored our veterans, acknowledged the sacrifices of their families and friends, and also included remembrances of others who have left our lives.

I am increasingly convinced that we will never end war until we can understand and have compassion for the suffering of those who serve our country, whether it is in wartime or peacetime.

I hope your congregation will find a way to give honor and respect to our servicemen and women. We need them and they deserve respect and tribute for their sacrifice.

ogre said...

The service of those who've died has, so far as I can recall, always been at least acknowledged. But Memorial Day itself is not treated as if it were a mandatory piece of a/the liturgical year.

That said, there have been years when it was the service. Four years ago, for example. The service was about war, and the loss of life and the loss of those who have put themselves in harm's way on our behalf. Part of the service was that two of us, in black, stood at the side of the sanctuary, starting about 10 minutes before the service, and read the names of those killed in Iraq--one reading from the list of Coalition dead, and one from a list of Iraqi/civilian dead (clearly not complete). This reading was at a somber pace, one name read from one list, then one from the other, through the entire service--during readings, during meditation, during the story for all ages, during the sermon, during hymns...--and continued for about 10 minutes after the service as well.

It was immensely affecting for those doing it, and for the congregation. Even those who found it very annoying at first, and frustrated at it interfering with their focus on the sermon, expressed their deep sense of how trivial that was compared with the loss of a life... and all those lives.

I doubt we'll ever repeat it, but it was terribly powerful and very memorable. The congregation has become both more devoted to peace, and at the same time better embraced its military members and visitors...

(and I have no idea what to make of the word verification being "fragg.")

Bridgett said...

I'm not Unitarian, and I think your question was directed that way, but I will say, yes, my Catholic parish has Memorial Day services (and Thanksgiving and 4th of July and so forth).

Rebecca Hecking said...

In the recent past, our congregation has done a Quaker-style silent memorial day service, where anyone can speak and contribute if they wish. We were out of town this year, so I don't know if they continued the traditon or not (we are in the midst of a new minister search, so things are in flux)

Before that, I recall services where some of our older veterans spoke.

I think UU's struggle with Memorial Day. There is a fine line between remembering/honoring and slipping into glorifying militarism and war. Avoiding it entirely may be perceived as easier.

On my own blog, I talked about both Memorial Day and Endangered Species Day (the 15th). Perhaps the animal blessing was a nod to Endangered Species Day.