Many Americans associate the Memorial Day weekend with festive barbecues, the outdoors, and weekend road trips. Their holiday images often have a stronger symbolism of hotdogs and hamburgers instead of wartimes and heroes lost. We have a shared duty to insure this most holy federal holiday maintains its deeply emotional significance.
When I prepare for Memorial Day, I first remember its greater meaning: a day dedicated to the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. There are three key words that always stand out in my mind. Paid - they gave something of themselves for a return. Sacrifice - the thing they gave was most sacred, their own life. Behalf - they paid this sacrifice for us, without knowing us, without our asking. What did they receive in return for this most prolific exchange? Our ability to live a free and prosperous life in the greatest nation on earth.
When I prepare for Memorial Day, I dedicate time to specifically remembering my friends that died overseas. I remember stories of the joy we shared together. I think about their families. I remember the gut-wrenching emotions of attending their funerals. I think about the generations before me, men and women I never knew, who laid down their lives for me and my family. I never forget the sound of the trumpet as it delivered Taps on a rainy day at Arlington National Cemetery. I never forget the frigid predawn hours spent on the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base awaiting the remains of my brothers. Simply, I will never forget.
As you prepare for Memorial Day, endeavor to eternalize the memory of those we lost, those we never knew, who gave it all in the noble defense of our great nation and way of life. I will never forget!
Author: Joe Shamess is an American combat veteran of Afghanistan, the Middle East, and East Africa. Joe is an entrepreneur, investor, and a Co-Founder and Owner of Flags of Valor.