Blessing bikes, planting flags: What churches are doing to celebrate Memorial Day

by Michael Gryboski, |
Members of Rolling Thunder listen during the "Blessing of the Bikes" ceremony at National Cathedral in Washington, May 23, 2014. National Cathedral welcomed members of Rolling Thunder XXVII ahead of their annual ride on the Memorial Day weekend. | Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States centered on remembering members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have died.

In addition to the usual festivities of parades, gatherings, and the decorations of graves, churches across the country have their own ways of observing the solemn holiday.

First Baptist Church of Dallas held a remembrance service on Sunday.

"We will take a moment in the service to remember those who have given their lives to protect our nation," Pastor Robert Jeffress told CP on Friday via email.

"After verbally acknowledging their sacrifice, 'Taps' will be played and a prayer will be offered for the families of our military men and women who have died in the service of our country."

Jeffress also told CP that FBC Dallas has an annual service with a focus on American nationalism called "Freedom Sunday," which is scheduled to take place on June 30.

"We will dedicate the entire service to celebrating our freedom as Americans and as Christians," continued Jeffress, whose congregation has garnered controversy in the past for the patriotic themes of the service.

"In addition to the inspiring patriotic and inspirational music, we will recognize all who have served in all branches of the military. Our guest speaker that day will be Lt. Col. Oliver North who will share his Christian testimony."

The Washington National Cathedral, a prominent Episcopal Church congregation in the nation's capital, held a "Blessing of the Bikes" event early Friday evening.

The event was created in 2014 and held as a way to welcome participants of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle gathering who were traveling to the area for the holiday weekend.

Included on the agenda was a brief service with a two-bell ceremony. From there, attendees departed for a candlelight vigil held at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Ruth Frey, director of programs at Washington National Cathedral, told CP in a 2015 interview that the annual event reminds them that "we cannot fully recognize and honor the living without also remembering those who have been lost."

"This event with Rolling Thunder is part of the Cathedral's ongoing initiative to recognize and pay tribute to veterans, to offer a sacred space for spiritual healing, and to educate the civilian public about the experience of veterans and the challenges they and their families face when returning home," said Frey at the time.

This year's "Blessing of the Bikes" might be the final one, as the Military Times is reporting that Rolling Thunder will not return in 2020.

Continue reading about Memorial Day on The Christian Post.