As a child, Memorial Day was a family day. We would buy bags of dirt and flats of flowers. We would then plant them in elaborate pots; the same pots we planted them in the year before. Once this was complete, we would load up the station wagon and head out to the cemetery. The headstones of deceased family members would get love and attention as we scrubbed them off, washed them down, trimmed back the grass and placed the pots of fresh flowers. We repeated this at multiple cemeteries throughout the area making sure to “visit” both sides of the family.

I don’t know what this meant to my parents, visiting the graves of their parents and others, but for me it was a time to hear the stories of the people who paved the path. I’d hear how my Grandpa worked hard to make it through the lean years or how my Great Aunts would harass my Grandma growing up. These stories shared with me the fond memories, hard work and sacrifices my ancestors made to lay the foundation of where I am today.

The true meaning of Memorial Day is to remember the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for me; the men and women who paved the path of freedom that I walk down today. We have been blessed with this freedom for so long, with few true threats that it is easy to take it for granted. This is why Memorial Day is such an important day for us to pause and remember.

As Christians, the connection should be easy. We have forgiveness from our Heavenly Father. Forgiveness many of us in the church have known our whole lives. We forget it isn’t “free” or “cheap,” it came at the highest of prices. It cost Jesus Christ His life in exchange for our forgiveness.

This weekend, as you take some time off, consider sharing a story of a hero who paid a high price so you could be blessed. Tell your neighbor, family or a new person you meet of this great blessing you’ve received. Then, consider what stories of selfless love the next generation will tell about you.

Remember the gifts of family, freedom and faith given by God, to us through people past and present. Then thank and praise Him with all of your life.