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With Memorial Day 2017 coming up, in honor of a fallen hero, and for friends not exposed to the military life that ask what they can do, this is an important one …..
It was early Sunday morning (a week ago) when a text came from my precious daughter-in-love, asking for prayer for her husband, my 23-year old son, who had just found out about a fellow Army brother had lost his life in the line of duty. Not knowing that his wife had texted me, my son also texted me later in the day…..
“If you’ll just say a prayer for my buddy’s family and girlfriend. I just lost a fraternity brother, friend, and good role model yesterday in Iraq. He was right there with me all throughout college.”
Captain’s friend was 25 years old. 25! What were you doing at 25? I certainly wasn’t putting my life on the line on a daily basis. It may not be your calling or mine to serve in this way, but I believe it needs to be personal to all of us that call the United States of America our home.
Remember Memorial Day?
Sadly, when MOST people think of Memorial Day, they first think of it as the long (holiday) weekend that is the official start of Summer. A small majority of us do remember what the holiday is for, but it’s a passing thought, maybe envisioning old fellows that died in a war many years ago.
They deserve for it to be personal.
I don’t know Weston’s Mama, but I’ve cried many tears for her (I still am as I type this!) and the rest of his family and friends. I could very easily be sitting here as “that” Mom who just lost her son while he was serving his country. Below is the image of Weston being transported honorably this week.
At this very moment, Weston is being transported through Georgia. I’m so happy to see that the local school systems are releasing their kids early in honor of Lt. Lee so that all community members can participate in the processional through West Georgia. Also, Governor Deal has ordered that all flags be flown at half staff at all state buildings within the entire state until sunset today.
Yes, that’s what I’m talking about!
I can’t imagine what his Mom, girlfriend, family, and friends feel right now. My son is driving across the state tomorrow to attend a memorial for him. Why a memorial? Weston will not be buried in Georgia, but honorably laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetary in Washington, D. C.
What can WE do Memorial Day 2017?
This Memorial Day, what could we possibly do for families of fallen soldiers, especially if we don’t know them personally? I’m so glad you asked, friend. Here are a few ideas:
1. Be Personal
I can bet that this Mom wants everyone to know her son’s name – for us to know how much he loved God, his country, his family, and people in general. I’m sure she’d love for us to not look at her with pity, but to think of Wes with honor and to know him a little more personally. You can share his story (including this post), donate to a scholarship in his name, or send a letter or condolences to the family.
It doesn’t have to be Wesley’s family. Do you know of a family who has lost a loved one during military service? It doesn’t even have to be a recent death for you to reach out show that you care. The simplest thing you can do is just say, “Tell me about your soldier,” and then let them talk as long as they want to.
2. Support those that support them
I believe the worst thing we can do is nothing at all or to say, “Let me know if you need anything.” They aren’t going to ask, just do something. Again, Wesley’s brothers have created a scholarship to honor kids who follow in his footsteps.
There are others as well -> I recently found out about a very cool organization called Snowball Express that serves to remember the families that soldiers leave behind. If you watch just the initial moments, you can see what it means to the spouses and kids of fallen soldiers.
Another great organization is Fallen Patriots. There are approximately 20,000 children that have lost an active-duty parent in the military over the last 35 years. 97% of casualties are men, leaving behind single mothers to care for their families. Of those families, 60% report having trouble making ends meet. Fallen Patriots step in and become a huge blessing to these families.
3. Teach the next generation
I’ve written about this holiday every year as well as Veteran’s Day, Flag Day, and July 4th, and I will say till the very end …
Please, for the love of all things holy, teach the next generation how to respect the military.
Not only can you just talk to kids and young people about the sacrifice that our military takes on (purposefully) daily, you can speak volumes by how you live your life respectfully with these individuals. This Memorial Day 2017, you can buy a meal of a living soldier that you see in town, shake their hand, read books to your kids about them, watch movies, or a Memorial Day video for kids.
I try to decorate our home in their honor, talk about them, and go do something memorable (like visit our local Memorial Wall, cemetery, or local events), no matter how tiny. It’s also very hard for me to walk past an old Veteran wearing a military cap without speaking to him on any day of the year.
Memorial Day 2017 ~ Did you know?
- This holiday was in response to the lives lost in the Civil War
- In 1864, women placed flowers on graves near Gettysburg, PA
- In 1866, an annual community service began in Waterloo, N.Y.
- In 1868, General Logan issued orders that May 30th “for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”
- The holiday was known as Decoration Day for the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags
- On May 30th, 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant led the 1st Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetary
- In 1915, after performing a burial service for a friend killed in WWI, John McCrae wrote the poem “In Flanders Fields”
- Georgia teacher, Moina Michael established the poppy flower as the symbol of tribute and support for the gravesite of veterans
- In 1967, the holiday became known as Memorial Day by federal law
- The American flag should be hung at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, then raised to the top of the staff until sunset
- All Americans are encouraged to pause for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time
Memorial Day BBQs, holidays, & parties?
Do I think it’s wrong to celebrate and enjoy the three-day weekend this Memorial Day 2017? Absolutely not! I would imagine that any soldier that has given his life for this country would want you to enjoy yourself on this holiday weekend. I’m sure they would prefer you to do whatever makes you happy this Memorial Day and take advantage of the freedom that they gave their life for.
I bet each fallen soldier and their families would ask just one thing …..
This post. I’m so guilty of not doing what I should. Thank you, thank you for sharing this. Memorial Day, for us, will not be the same, and that’s a good thing.
Your words mean so much to me. Thank you!
We do the same thing every year. We attend the Memorial Day parade here in town. This year my son will be matching with Cub Scouts to the cemetery where they hold the Memorial Day ceremony. Past and Present Military personnel attend. Its a great tribute to those we have lost.
One thing that always stands out in my mind is a young man who was KIA in the next town over. We attended the ceremony when they brought him home. Fire Trucks with flags drapped between them,I have never seen so much patriotism in my life. It was definitely something I will never forget.
You have a Memorial Day parade in your town??? That is AMAZING and pretty unusual these days I think, so definitely don’t take that for granted. Wow, I can’t imagine seeing what you saw at that ceremony. I’m sure it WAS unforgettable. God bless you, Carrie, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. Means a lot!
Thank you for sharing this personal and important message. I appreciate the reminder to celebrate the truth of the holiday. Cheers to those who serve us.
Thanks for sharing! I will definitely keep this in mind.
Great reminder. We try to take time each year to take our kids to the cemetery where we have family buried, but like so many others, most of the day is just a holiday. What a powerful challenge: “Never forget why you are free.” Thanks for this.
Thank you, Meg, for the cemetery walk. That’s great! And thank you for your kind words. Makes all the writing (and begging! lol) worth it! God bless you.
Oh, this makes my heart hurt. Young lives lost are so, so hard, especially when they die with such honor. My husband’s father died when he was 16 from post-Vietnam complications. I actually met my husband and our first son was born on Memorial Day and I always felt he had a hand in it. Every Memorial Day I teach my boys about their Grandfather (through stories told to me by my husband, his mother, and his family – I never met him myself) and remind them what the holiday is about, other than summer and parites.
Oh my goodness, Morgan. That is amazing that your son was born on this holiday. Way to go for teaching him his military heritage and what a hero his Grandfather is! You never know how far that teaching will go with our kids – worth every minute we spend teaching them. Thank you!!!
Thanks for this beautiful post. As a veteran, I feel that most people forget what the true meaning of Memorial Day is. I work with a number of people who can’t stand the military and let their feelings known.
Prayers to Weston’s family and to all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty protecting this country.
I am so sorry for your loss. All our service men and women deserve the upmost respect and honor for serving and sacrificing for our country.
Thank you for your son’s and your family’s service. As a veteran, I appreciate your post and reminder that Memorial Day is so much more than a day off of work and school. Thanks for sharing at the This Is How We Roll Link Party.
Oh my, Susan. Thank you for your kind words and for YOUR service. We truly appreciate it, and you taking the time to share your thoughts here.