Memorial Day is a bittersweet time for all military families.  While most of the country is excited about barbecues, hitting the pool/beach, a family vacation and the “unofficial start of summer”; we are faced with walking the fine line of being appreciative of our freedoms, proud of the service of our soldiers (and ourselves if we were/are active duty) and grieving the friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

I served in the Air Force, my husband is in the Army; we’ve been to more memorial services than we care to count.  We’ve had to hold each others hand through the Final Roll Call, the moment during the memorial when they are calling each soldiers name in the deployed team.  We’ve held our breath when they get to our friend’s name, holding it through the silence as the weight of the realization that we’ll never hear them say “Here First Sergeant”.  It’s not something that you EVER forget, and even writing about it now brings tears to my eyes.

So, this weekend on social media and in real life, we’re going to be inundated with posts and well wishes of a “Happy Memorial Day”.  Businesses will use this weekend as the perfect time to save BIG on whatever product that they’re selling, which we probably don’t need in the first place. Well-meaning friends that are completely oblivious to what this day actually means for so many of us will give our spouses a heartfelt “Thank you for your service”.  And, at times, it’s going to make us angry.  We’ll feel the need to REMIND everyone what Memorial Day ACTUALLY is (and educate everyone on the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day).  Know that I get it.  I feel it too… the automatic rise of your blood pressure, the lump in your throat, the tears that sting your eyes and the racing of your heart.  Because it hurts.  It always will.

But I’m going to ask you to check your feelings, dear friend.

We have to check our feelings because while we are personally offended, our friends- the ones that gave their ALL… I’d be willing to bet they’re not offended.  They are hopefully hanging out together telling all their war stories and PROUD of the sacrifice that they made, so that we can enjoy this weekend together.  They’re probably so grateful that they’ve made such an impact on you.  Because of you, their stories and lives and service will live on.

So when you feel your blood boiling and want to put everyone in their PLACE this weekend, instead… I want you to share a story of your HERO.  Share their names, their pictures.  Reach out to their families…because every day is Memorial Day for them.

And if you are the person who doesn’t have a story to share because you are blessed enough to have not experienced this very real tragedy of losing a brother or sister in arms… then I beg this of you.  Before wishing all a “Happy Memorial Day”, instead wish them a “Peaceful Memorial Day”.  I think that’s something that we can ALL get behind.

A Retired US Army Soldier and his son remember fallen soldiers at the Hendrick Stadium at Fort Bragg, NC during All American Week. Each boot represents a fallen soldier since September 11, 2001. Photo Credit: Jenifer Fennell of Jenifer Fennell Photography

From my family to yours, I wish you a peace-filled Memorial Day filled with lots of love, laughter and beautiful memories.

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P.S. To see more of how Fort Bragg celebrated All American Week and honored fallen soldiers, watch this video.  You’ll be glad you did. Run, Honor and Remember 5K.

 

 

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