“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Jesus, Mark 12:17 (KJV). Much speculation has passed regarding what things are rightly Caesar’s; Jesus did not provide great specificity. He also did not speak much to the manner of rendering.
Decoration Day, or Memorial Day (as termed in the 20th Century), falls into the category of things rendered to Caesar – a day to remember those who died in martial government service. Says Facebook today:
Facebook, May 30, 2016.
Note, they say “gratitude for those who have served” not “those who served and died” as originally intended. They also promote pomp and jingoism (waving a BIG flag). This is the modern, statist interpretation of the Day – fireworks, speeches, cookouts, car sales. Today it is less about remembering the dead of war (war produces a lot of dead) but more about loud appreciation of government and government violence. If this is a secular, Caesar-rendering thing, then is this the proper manner for the rendering?
Jesus, again, provides insight, (indirectly) via his advice on prayer: “…thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.” Matthew 6:5.
Today is a day to quietly remember the fallen and not to bombastically celebrate the government for which they fell. It might also serve as a good opportunity to consider the state’s quest to constantly add to the ranks of the fallen. Might we be better off with a memorial to war – meaning war as something dead and buried, gone – a grave to cover with flowers?