2020 Memorial Day Statement
of the Council of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Beloved brethren in the Lord: CHRIST IS RISEN!
By the Grace of God our nation will once again observe Memorial Day - a date on the civil calendar when we must honor the men and women who perished in the wars that have preserved our nation’s independence and the life we know and cherish. Now, in 2020, this commemoration will be observed in a very different manner than what we are familiar with. There will be no parades, no mass gatherings in national, regional or local military cemeteries or at city and village long established Memorial Monuments. We are under siege by the still largely unknown and unseen enemy – COVID-19 or CORONAVIRUS – a pandemic.
Although we cannot simply ignore the pandemic, we will remember all those made the ultimate sacrifice to protect those who remaining at home to enjoy life in freedom. We are certain that Memorial Services will be conducted all over the nation, but the vast majority of them will be virtual live streams in nature. Included among these will be our own Church’s service as announced on our church website: www.uocofusa.org
We believe that there are few families in our great nation that have no one among those who will be commemorated on this Memorial Day weekend. The rank held in our Armed Forces is of no concern when we pray for the repose of their souls and honor their memory. Each of their contributions has been invaluable in creating and sustaining our nation, which welcomes all who seek freedom and the possibility of achieving their treasured dreams. So many of our heroes never came home, interred and memorialized in cemeteries around the world, where the citizens of many a nation will join in honoring them as those who ended the tyranny under which they lived. Further, many of those lost were never found and or were unidentified resting in unmarked and unidentified graves beyond our reach.
Our world has become a place in which many persons are anxious to jealously preserve their own interests. This holiday weekend has sadly, under normal circumstances, become known for many reasons of far less significance than remembering heroes: the start of summer, the opening of beaches and public pools, the firing up of the backyard grill and a long weekend away from work. We cannot allow these to prevail over the real meaning of the Memorial Day. The sacrifice of our fallen in war demands that we contemplate what our life is because of that sacrifice. Let us ponder, as we remember our heroes of the past, about whether or not we, ourselves, would be willing to make such an ultimate sacrifice for the sake of our contemporaries and for future generations. Let us talk to our children and grandchildren about lost parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles who made their lives possible.
In all our parishes this weekend, our parish priests will conduct memorial services following Divine Liturgy for the repose of the souls of our heroes and protectors. If your parish Divine Liturgy is live streamed, please join your priest in these prayers, recalling first of all, the members of your own families, towns, villages, cities and states. If there is no local live stream, you are welcome to participate in the Divine Liturgy and Memorial Service in St. Andrew Memorial Church at the Metropolia Center. All our combined prayers will rise up to the Lord as His Countenance shines upon those who served, and we will beseech their Eternal Memory from generation to generation in God’s Heavenly Kingdom. Let us never take for granted the freedoms for which they fought. Let us choose to make some sacrifice of our own this Memorial Day: an act of service, commemoration or prayer. Let us always strive to be citizens mindful and respectful of those who paid the ultimate price.