Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day) began after the Civil War as a chance for the country to commemorate and visit the graves of citizens who died during military service.
Some contributors to The Washington Post's faith leader network shared their religion’s prayers of remembrance intended to honor those who have passed away.
O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“This prayer, from ‘The Book of Common Prayer,’ is frequently used at funerals.”
— Bill Haley is the Associate Rector at The Falls Church Anglican and Director of Formation for The Washington Institute.
O my God! O my God! Verily, thy servant, humble before the majesty of Thy divine supremacy, lowly at the door of Thy oneness, hath believed in Thee and in Thy verses, hath testified to Thy word, hath been enkindled with the fire of Thy love, hath been immersed in the depths of the ocean of Thy knowledge, hath been attracted by Thy breezes, hath relied upon Thee, hath turned his face to Thee, hath offered his supplications to Thee, and hath been assured of Thy pardon and forgiveness. He hath abandoned this mortal life and hath flown to the kingdom of immortality, yearning for the favor of meeting Thee.
O Lord, glorify his station, shelter him under the pavilion of Thy supreme mercy, cause him to enter Thy glorious paradise, and perpetuate his existence in Thine exalted rose garden, that he may plunge into the sea of light in the world of mysteries.
Verily, Thou art the Generous, the Powerful, the Forgiver and the Bestower.
“There are a number of Baha'i prayers for loved ones who have left this world, the above one is one of my personal favorites. There is also a beautiful Baha'i explanation of how our prayers can impact those in the next world just as their prayers influence us.”
— Shastri Purushotma who sits on the governing council of the Bahai’s of Washington, D.C.
May I purify an ocean of worlds,
May I free an ocean of beings
May I clearly see an ocean of Dharma,
May I realize an ocean of pristine wisdom.
May I purify an ocean of activities,
May I fulfill an ocean of aspirations,
May I make offerings to an ocean of buddhas,
May I practice without discouragement for an ocean of eons
“Death is a change of state — a passage to our next life. The loss of a loved one inspires us to develop the spiritual qualities to help all beings find freedom from the endless circle of birth and death. This passage comes from The King of Prayers, a Tibetan Buddhist prayer.”
— Losang Tendrol is a nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She teaches meditation at the Guhyasamaja Buddhist Center in Reston, Va.
Almighty God and Father,
it is our certain faith that your Son, who died on the cross,
was raised from the dead, the first fruits of all who have fallen asleep.
Grant that through this mystery your servant,
who has gone to his/her rest in Christ
may share in the joy of the resurrection.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
“This is one of a few common prayers for funerals. People visiting a cemetery though often will say the Rosary or a few Our Father and Hail Mary prayers for the person’s soul.”
“The Kaddish is the most frequently recited prayer in the Jewish liturgy. Its origins have been traced to the days of the Talmud (which was composed from the 2nd – 5th centuries). Throughout Jewish history, the Kaddish has been the prayer which expresses most forcefully and clearly the relationship of the individual Jew to his or her Maker. Although there are multiple forms of the Kaddish, the form that is most well known is called the Mourners’ Kaddish, a prayer which first entered into the formal Jewish liturgy after the close of the Talmud.
It is called Mourner’s Kaddish because it became the custom and practice for this sublime prayer to be recited by a mourner at the conclusion of the service and because of the content of the prayer.
Although the Kaddish itself does not expressly refer to death or to the afterlife, the Kaddish has served as the prayer which commemorates the death of a person. The Kaddish acts as a declaration of the mourner’s continued belief in God and the ultimate justice of His ways. The mourner publicly testifies to the greatness of God’s name at the same time that the mourner is often consumed with overwhelming grief. The willingness of the mourner to commit himself to the regular saying of the Kaddish (many mourners recite the Kaddish everyday for 11 straight months) is a clear demonstration of both continued dedication to God and to the now departed loved one. By reciting the Kaddish the mourner is also declaring that their loved one’s commitment to Judaism has been carried forth into the next generation.”
— Shmuel Herzfeld is a rabbi at Ohev Sholom - The National Synagogue, in the District and author of “Fifty-Four Pickup: Fifteen-Minute Inspirational Torah Lessons.”