How They Spent Their Dash

Memorial Day Commemoration 2008

Memorial Day Commemoration (Photo credit: davidyuweb)

Memorial Day is observed annually in the United States on the last Monday of May. It originated after the Civil War and honors all Americans who have died in all wars. As a marker, it typically marks the start of summer vacation season while Labor Day marks its end. It’s the end of school for many. Some have graduated and some are starting their career. It’s a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. It’s a time to remember the lessons of the past for each day that goes by gives us another day of recorded history we can model after or learn from or share with others.

I received an email a while back from a friend and in this email was a story of a lady who had started a long time ago to plant one daffodil at a time in a field. Now the field is covered with beautiful yellow daffodils. This story points out that if you start something positive even if it’s small, over time you will build something of beauty. Mark Twain said one time, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore – Dream – Discover.”

Memorial Day should inspire the need to get things done now and never put things off because our opportunities to do great things may pass us by. Give it all we have while we can? We should live each day we have like the song by Tim Mcgraw called Live Like You Were Dying. The song puts things in perspective. Some of the lyrics in the song go I loved deeper, I spoke sweeter, I watched an eagle flying, live like you were dying.

I remember seeing a TV program called 20/20. They interviewed Christopher Reeves after his horse riding accident which left him paralyzed in 1995. In the interview, he said that when he saw an able bodied person he would say to himself, “Man Just Go for It”! That’s some good advice. You see God has the eraser. He’s present to help us make the needed adjustments if we get off course. So go for it! If you feel a job is above your head, express your concerns in prayer and ask for the necessary skills. Ask for good helpers. Most of all, believe that God has given you a mission. God wants us to accept our lot in life. He gives each of us talents and ideas. It’s up to us to start using what gifts we have and giving God the glory.

One time a bird decided to make a nest inside an ornament on our back porch. The bird gave our whole family a lesson on good work habits. It taught us about having a purpose, planning, and initiative. Memorial Day teaches us the same lessons. There are so many lessons to be learned from history. It was the initiative of Winston Churchill who called a meeting of the entire British cabinet and made his case for an all out war with Hitler. It was the inventors of the past like Ben Franklin who experimented with electricity that started the wave of new inventions for new devices. Without their initiative, just think how things would be – no light bulbs, no washers, no dryers, no TV, or computers.

Memorial Day is a time we can honor the service of those that gave up their life for our freedom. It’s a time we can offer appreciation and some kind words that can strengthen and support. For in remembrance of others, we learn that the best portion of a good person’s life is the little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. We should make every effort to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, kindness; and to kindness, love.

You’ve heard of the saying “Nice Guys Finish Last”. Well, a study was done which found just the opposite. Nice guys finish first because this study found that being kind provides a climate which leads individuals to maximize their potential. It’s like a sprinter running on a fast track with a slight breeze pushing them to break the record.  Everything runs more effectively and more efficiently when emphasis is put into making others happy or providing customer service.  Examples are found in business, politics, and in communities everywhere.

I’ve heard a story of a teacher who made an assignment for her students. The assignment was to write down good things or things they liked about their classmates. She gave each student a copy of what others had said.  Later in life at her funeral, some classmates shared that they still had that list and went to it frequently to give them encouragement or to lift their spirits.

If you look at a grave marker, you will either see a dash or a space that separates the birth date and the death date. At a funeral, these dates are always mentioned but it’s the dash or space between the dates that really matters. The loved ones of those being memorialized know what that dash or space means. It’s not the cars, the house, the cash but how they lived.

This memorial day, I’m thinking about things I could change now like slowing down a little, considering the needs of others, or making a difference in my community? Maybe show more appreciation to those that have helped me over the years or be less angry when things don’t work out exactly as planned. Maybe work harder to make sure I treat others with respect or wear a smile for one never knows, the time they have may only be a while. My thoughts on this Memorial Day are about the respect I have for those who have fought for our freedom over the years and how proud we should be for how they spent their dash.

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About Mark Shields

Mark works in the Information Systems Department for an Insurance Company. He volunteers as a member of the media ministry team at his church and runs the 10:50 worship service computer. A few years ago, he started an on-line Bible study guide called “This Day with God Devotional”. He uses this as a tool in his journey through the Bible. We live in a very busy world with busy schedules so this tool has helped him continue with daily Bible reading and study. You’re invited to join him on this journey or check in every so often to read his thoughts.
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One Response to How They Spent Their Dash

  1. Mark Shields says:

    Reblogged this on This Day With God and commented:
    Between the dates of a grave marker, a dash separates the birth date and death date. At a funeral, the dates are always mentioned but it’s the dash between the dates that really matters. The loved ones of those lost in the line of duty know what that dash means. It’s not fame, money, or even being a hero but how they lived. This Memorial Day, remember those who died for our freedom and how they spent their dash.

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