“Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.” Ronald Reagan, 1986
Leading up to this Memorial Day, I reached out to several of our veteran and current military Team Members so we could share their personal stories on what this sacred day means to them. I didn’t know what kind of replies I would get back, I knew they would be well thought-out, but I had no idea that after all these years, I would finally learn what this day really means.
After reading the heartfelt stories submitted and wiping away the tears that fell with each word so honestly written, I have a new appreciation for what Memorial Day is and how it should be spent – not celebrated. It’s so easy to get caught up in this holiday weekend filled with store sales and beach trips, cook-outs and pool time, but the real reason for all of these fun things should be ever present in your heart and your mind: a young man, a mother, a father, a daughter, a son, a friend, a brother, a wife, a husband, a loved one, a stranger gave their life so that you may continue to live yours.
After reading my Team Member’s stories and doing a little research, I have compiled a few tips on how you can honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice:
- Memorial Day is our Country’s chance to pause and remember the brave lives lost defending your freedoms. Pause, remember, and be forever thankful.
- Please don’t thank a veteran for their service, save your thanks for Veterans Day. They don’t feel like they are the lucky ones and they don’t feel like this day is about them. It’s about their comrades who didn’t come back home. It’s about the friends who saved their lives by throwing themselves in harm’s way. Survivor’s guilt is real.
- Also, do not express your thanks to anyone who is active duty, national guard, or in the reserves, save your thanks for Armed Forces Day. This is still a difficult day for many of them and a simple, well-intentioned thank you can trigger some pretty harsh memories.
- If you know a “Gold Star Family”, do thank them. The gold star means their family member died in combat and they deserve your thanks because their pain endures.
- When you’re enjoying the many festivities this weekend, think about why you’re able to enjoy them.