Updated: May 24
There is a movie that I like to watch near and around Memorial Day Weekend. It is the iconic movie "Forrest Gump," and today I would like to tell you about the character Bubba. While Bubba's story is fictional, we can draw inspiration from his character traits and the life-giving invitation to real, honest friendship and connect it to our Christian faith.
So, let me tell you about Benjamin "Bubba" Buford Blue. Bubba was drafted into the United States Army and was sitting on the bus heading to basic training when he first met Forrest, offering him a seat next to him. In the movie, Bubba was a hero of the war, not because he killed many or destroyed the enemy but because he loved and cherished his brother. Bubba is the Hero that we all need because, amid a terrible war, Bubba was able to share what life he had, offering an honest, kind, and unique friendship and by sharing his heart and goals in life beyond the war.
During their basic training, Bubba talks about the shrimp fishing business and recites his hopes and dreams for a reputable company beyond the conflict---thus sharing a life for the future and inviting Forrest to participate, to dream with him. Eventually, the two are sent to Vietnam, where they get caught in the rain that continues for four months until it stops, and the Vietnamese immediately ambush them. In the heat of the battle, Lt. Dan orders the soldiers to pull back, and Bubba tells Forrest to run. Forrest does, but soon is alone and rushes back to find Bubba. After finding and rescuing Dallas, Tex, Cleveland, and Lt. Dan, Forrest finds Bubba down in the grass, having been shot in the chest too. Forrest picks Bubba up and takes him to the river where Lt. Dan and the others are dodging a napalm strike Lt. Dan ordered on the way out.
Then Bubba asks Forrest why it all had to happen and says he wants to go home, dying shortly afterward.
"Why it all had to happen?" Forrest doesn't have an honest answer; nobody does. However, the whole thing makes us question the point of the war and pushes us to pray for a day when the reality of war is something of history, not our current reality. I know I know... it might not be the heroic death or story you expect, but it is pretty radical in its message. Let me explain.
In the following years, Forrest Gump, Bubba's loyal friend, carried his memory in his heart. Forrest would visit Bubba's grave and remember Bubba's sacrifices, ideals, and the laughter they shared, and that is the reason why Bubba is a hero. The hero is the person that amid a broken world, amid death or sin, is able to envision a future beyond conflict. Are you thinking about the Gospel yet?
Forrest understood that honoring Bubba and all fallen soldiers extended beyond a day or weekend. Inspired by his faith, friendship, and promises, Forrest lived a life of gratitude, seeking opportunities to serve others, embracing the values cherished by his friend, and remembering his friend's family. Drawing from Forrest's example, as people of God, we too can...
honor those who have died in service to our country, not joining the conflict, but by living because they can not.
On Memorial Day weekend, we can engage in meaningful acts that reflect our appreciation for their sacrifices and demonstrate our Christian faith.
Prayer and Reflection: Set aside time for prayer, reflecting on the lives of the fallen and their families. Offer gratitude to God for their service and ask for comfort and strength for those who mourn.
Scripture Verse: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18
Acts of Service: Engage in acts of service within your community. Volunteer at a veterans' organization or participate in initiatives that support the well-being of veterans and their families. Extend a helping hand to those who have borne the weight of loss.
Scripture Verse: "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." - 1 Peter 4:10
Gratitude and Remembrance: Visit local memorials and cemeteries, or participate in memorial services to honor the fallen. Lay flowers say a prayer, oy take a moment of silence, acknowledging their sacrifice and expressing gratitude.
Scripture Verse: "I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore, the nations will praise you forever and ever." - Psalm 45:17
Educating the Next Generation: Teach younger generations about the importance of Memorial Day and the sacrifices made by our heroes. Share stories, engage in open dialogues, and instill in them a sense of gratitude for those who have given their lives, always instilling the truth that there is always life beyond the war.
Scripture Verse: "One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts." - Psalm 145:4
As Memorial Day weekend approaches remember this occasion's true essence and honor our fallen heroes' sacrifices. By engaging in acts of gratitude, educating future generations, supporting veterans and their families, incorporating prayer and reflection, and attending memorial services, we can demonstrate our appreciation for their service. By infusing these observances with our Christian faith, we add a depth of meaning to the weekend, reminding us of the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus.