Memorial Day is a day observed in May to remember those who’ve died in active military service. It’s not a day to thank a vet for their service, but a day to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice–their life for us to remain a free country.
When I was a kid, Memorial Day meant something different to me. It meant a 3-day weekend with possibly a picnic, fishing, grilling, or some other fun activity. I always looked forward to a 3-day weekend! Also, the last day of school was always around Memorial Day, so it was even better if we didn’t have to go back to school after a fun filled weekend.
At age 17, after the 9/11 attacks, I enlisted in the Iowa Army National Guard. I felt I had to do something for my country. I went to basic training, AIT (Advanced Individualized Training), and then home to be a Human Resource Specialist for the Iowa Army National Guard. That’s when things started changing in my mind about what the true meaning of Memorial Day was.
Being a soldier changes how you look at things.
I started seeing the sacrifices soldiers made to serve our great country. When I lay my head down at night, I d0n’t have to worry about what may happen during the night. I don’t have to worry about expressing myself or my views and have something happen to me because of it. Why? Because we live in a country where we are FREE. And the reason we are free is because some soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives.
Soldiers Speak Out
I asked a few soldiers what Memorial day meant to them. Here is what they said:
“On Memorial Day (and everyday), I remember and honor a friend who didn’t make it home with us when we were deployed to Afghanistan. I also honor those who have gone before me and have given their lives.”
~SSG Brandon Ingle IANG
“To me it’s a day to remember and honor the lives of our Service Members who gave their life to defend the freedoms that we have, and are often taken for granted here in the United States. For many Veterans and current service members, and family members of the fallen, every day is memorial day; we live with the loss of our friends and family daily and will never forget. The Memorial Day holiday is a great reminder to civilians and a way to publicly display our appreciation for those no longer with us. It’s most definitely not about store sales, grilling out, parties, and a 3 day weekend.”
~CPT Tyson Trunkhill IANG
“Memorial Day is a day that we continue to recognize those that have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice for us, for our country, and for freedom and democracy. I believe it’s the sacrifice above all that distinguishes the men and women that have served their country. This is not a day to thank current and past serving members of the military. It is to show respect and honor to those who have laid their lives down protecting the very freedom we have today.
Whether they had intentions to go to war or not, many have gone forward and served their nation. They’ve given of themselves for the greater good of our nation. These are the men and women that have fought to establish our nation, the men and women that have gone to fight to improve and preserve life all over the world, and preserve our way of life here at home. We all should be thankful for that.”
~CPT Justin R. Foote IANG
Ways to Honor the Fallen
So, on this Memorial Day, observe a moment of silence (whether in prayer or just being quiet) in honor of the fallen soldiers who laid their life down defending freedom.
The National Moment of Remembrance is held at 3 p.m. every year on Memorial Day, and asks that all Americans pause from whatever they are doing. Hold a moment of silence or listen to “Taps” to pay respects to our country and its heroes.
You can also see the faces and read the names of our fallen soldiers at Honor The Fallen.