The calendar has moved to the end of May, which means we are once again reaching Memorial Day. Each year, on this day, we take a moment to step away from football to come back to the meaning of today’s holiday. As we unofficially kick off the summer today, it is important that we also take a minute to thank those who made this weekend possible.
There is nothing wrong with breaking out the grill, heading out to the lake, and enjoying your friends and family today. The service members for whom this holiday exists want that. That is why they fought for the freedoms we all enjoy. But it is important that we remember the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Guardians, and Coast Guardsmen we have lost.
Over the years, Memorial Day has become a second Veterans Day, with the focus on the service member, but that is not the point of the day. While service members are never going to complain about receiving your thanks, that is not why we have today’s holiday. It is, instead, about those who cannot be with us. The ones who truly gave everything they had, including their own lives, so that we can continue to enjoy our way of life. It's for the men and women buried in Arlington National Cemetery, veterans cemeteries all around the country - and world - and for the ones who may never come home.
As the saying goes, "All gave some, some gave all."
Today is not about the all.
Today is about the some.
Friends and family members who left and did not come home. The service members who are remembered with crosses, Stars of David, crescents, and headstones. The service members that still lie on a battlefield somewhere in the world, and may never get the chance to be laid to rest with the rest of their family or comrades.
Today, “Happy” is not the right sentiment for the holiday. Be happy, enjoy the day, enjoy your friends and family, but remember, saying “Happy Memorial Day” is a little off.
Today is for Major Christopher Nogle, who I love and miss every day. It is also for Sergeant Christopher Taylor, Specialist Russell Nahvi, Sergeant Arthur Mora, Specialist Jose Rosario, Captain Kevin Smith, Specialist Lex Nelson, Specialist Joseph Lucas, Sergeant First Class Jonathan Lowery, Sergeant Benjamin Portell, Captain Rowdy Inman, Staff Sergeant Bryant Mackey, Staff Sergeant Chad Caldwell, Specialist Alex Gonzalez, Sergeant Jose Regalado, Specialist Corey Shea, Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, and Private First Class Robert Friese. It is for so very many others.
Today is a day to remember that freedom is not free.
Today is a day to remember the service members who died while serving our country.
Have fun today and tonight. Enjoy the unofficial start to summer. Hopefully you are grilling some great meat, crushing some amazing food, and enjoying great weather. Be smart if you are drinking, and don't drive.
But, at some point today, just take a moment to remember why we have Memorial Day, and maybe teach someone else the importance of the day.