Blessed Memorial Day! May 30th is the traditional date for Memorial Day, a day to honor American men and women who died in military service. It is one of those wonderful coincidences that this day is also the feast day of St. Joan of Arc, who was martyred on 30 May 1431. Could there be a better universal saint for memorial day?
It seems as though it was meant to be in a round about way. Memorial day originated as a remembrance of the American Civil War and expanded to remember the dead of all wars after World War I. Joan was canonized in 1920, two years after WWI ended, and became patron saint of France, where the war was primarily fought. Yet, this had nothing to do with choice of May 30th as Memorial Day. May 30 was chosen in 1868 because there were no civil war battles on that day, so that it could remember the dead of all battles. (Note that it was never intended to primarily be a three day weekend to mark the beginning of summer!)
Joan’s commemoration as a saint was a long time coming, almost 500 years for Roman Catholic recognition. She is now recognized on the calendar of the Church of England, and will hopefully be added to the Episcopal Church calendar soon.