How to be Enriched by Remembering By Roger Campbell

May 24th, 2012 | By admin | Category: Religion

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 share in patriotic services didn’t become a national holiday until 1971.

Originally a day set aside to honor those who gave their lives fighting for freedom, Memorial Day has now become a special time for remembering all who have died and for decorating their graves.

Memorial Day has its roots in the fierce and costly battle at Gettysburg, where thousands from both the Union and Confederate armies perished during the Civil War.  Most associate President Abraham Lincoln with this historic battle because of his brief but enduring “Gettysburg Address,” which is repeated in memorials across the nation on this day we stop to remember.

But is all this remembering good for us?  Does it enrich us or push us into pits of remorse?  Is there a Biblical call for such national looking back?

The answer lies in a command given by Joseph, one the Patriarchs of Israel, who in his youth was sold into slavery by his envious brothers.

Then things got worse.

Joseph’s master’s wife tried to seduce him while her prosperous husband was away on a business trip.  Talk about sexual harassment on the job!

When Joseph refused the immoral advances of this temptress and ran from her, she caught a piece of his clothing and used it as evidence for a trumped up rape charge causing him to be thrown into prison.  Still, in that dark place, Joseph remained faithful, believing God would ultimately bring good out of his dismal circumstances.

While in prison, Joseph interpreted a dream for Pharaoh’s former butler.  When the butler was released and regained his job, he recommended Joseph as one who could tell the king the meaning of a troubling dream; one that predicted seven good years ahead for Egypt followed by seven years of famine.  Pharaoh was so impressed by Joseph’s wisdom, insights and his walk with God that he made him his top man.  Joseph’s prayers were answered beyond his wildest dreams…but in God’s time.

Joseph died at the ripe old age of one hundred ten years and was buried in Egypt but his final request was to finally be transported home (Genesis 50:25). He foresaw the coming miracle of Israel’s escape from slavery and asked that they carry him with them as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to him during dark days and in securing their freedom.  He believed remembering would enrich their lives and build their faith so left a lasting legacy about focusing on the work of God in his life.

Like the rest of us, Joseph wasn’t perfect, but it’s unlikely that those who carried him on their shoulders as they headed home gave any thought to whatever faults they may have known about in him.  Instead, it’s likely they focused on his faith.

And as we pause to remember those who’ve traveled home ahead of us, we’ll be enriched by following their example.

Roger Campbell is an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years.

He can be reached at