Memorial Day: Why and How Should We Remember?

Memorial Day: Why and How Should We Remember? May 21, 2024

happy family with the flag of america USA at sunset outdoors
Remember cherished moments with loved ones. Image courtesy of Shutterstock: 1387236668, by Evgeny Atamanenko

This Memorial Day, we remember all those who’ve given their lives for the sake of our country. In doing so, we also celebrate with an extended weekend just when we need it most: As the busy month of May winds down and we gear up for summer sun.

While we honor all those who’ve served in the military this Memorial Day, we might also take time to remember other people and experiences over the holiday weekend.

Try to Remember

Try it. Take a moment to reflect upon a cherished moment with a loved one—maybe a grandparent who served in the military or another special person in your life. In doing so, you just boosted your own mental health and well-being. That’s right, research shows that when we recall positive memories, we re-experience the positive mood from the memory (Bower, 1981). The part of the brain involved in reward processing—called the striatum—is also recruited when we recall positive memories (Speer et al., 2014). What’s more—recalling positive memories can even protect us from stress by inhibiting the release of the stress hormone—cortisol (Speer, 2017). So next time you foresee a whopping stressor ahead—start remembering!

Catholic Views on Remembering

Now let’s consider the Catholic faith. In the book of Psalms, we are invited to “Recall the wondrous deeds he has done, his wonders and words of judgment” (Psalm 105:5). We see this call to remember in the New Testament, too. In fact, during the Last Supper, Jesus invited His disciples to eat His Body—consecrated bread—in memory of Him (Luke 22:19). When we receive the Eucharist in Holy Mass, we remember Jesus Christ—total self-gift.

Remember, Celebrate, Beleive

As a child, I recall going up to receive Communion during Mass, while singing Marty Hauga’s song, “We remember.” The words are beautiful and may be relevant this Memorial Day weekend: “We remember, we celebrate, we believe.”

It can be quite difficult to take time to pause and recall positive memories amidst our busy lives and endless to-do’s. In fact, the first step to remembering might be to simply pause throughout days. We might first engage in meditation or savor precious moments, as described in Tricia Gates Brown’s Patheos post, “Happiness is Bite-Sized: Finding Joy in Simple Moments.” One we start finding joy in these moments, we can then start remembering and savoring the past, as well.

Let’s Remember

When we do so, let’s remember all those who gave their lives for the sake of our country. Let’s remember Jesus Christ who gave His life for the sake of humankind. And let’s remember and cherish joyful moments. In doing so, we reap the rewards of recall and protect ourselves against stress. But most importantly, we draw closer to love—to the love of Christ and to the love of all those who’ve given their lives for the sake of others.

This Memorial Day, let’s remember, let’s celebrate the gifts we’ve received, and let’s believe—in love.


Bower, G. H. (1981). Mood and memory. American psychologist, 36(2), 129.

Speer, M. E., Bhanji, J. P., & Delgado, M. R. (2014). Savoring the past: positive memories evoke value representations in the striatum. Neuron, 84(4), 847-856.

Speer, M. E., & Delgado, M. R. (2017). Reminiscing about positive memories buffers acute stress responses. Nature human behaviour, 1(5), 0093.


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