Every last weekend in May, while most of the country prepares to celebrate the unofficial start of Summer with a barbecue, the military community is thinking of their brother or sister in arms and the Gold Star family they’ve left behind, while quietly cringing.
Don't get me wrong, we want you to enjoy your holiday! We are overjoyed that you are here to celebrate, all because a brave American hero was willing to protect your freedom to do so. But while you're celebrating, is it too much to ask to have a bit of respect while doing so?
Here are 3 things you can do (or avoid) to ensure that on this Memorial Day, a military member isn’t giving you serious side eye.
1. Know what Memorial Day actually is.
It’s not Veteran’s Day folks! There is no need to thank an active duty service member or retired veteran. While we understand the intention behind the thank you, Memorial Day is about honoring those who’ve given the ULTIMATE sacrifice. So, instead of thanking the military members you know, ask them who they think about on Memorial Day (and most likely every other day). Listen as they tell you the stories of the friends they've lost.
2. Don’t say “Happy Memorial Day”.
It’s a day of remembrance. Yes, be happy. Rather than wish people a Happy Memorial Day, instead wish them a PEACEFUL Memorial Day. That’s a sentiment that every American can get behind.
Image Source: Jenifer Fennell Photography
In 2016, 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.
3. Say their names, remember their families.
Once you know some of the names of the fallen soldiers that your military friends have shared with you, share their story with others. Whether you pray, hold a toast, dedicate your meal- however you wish to honor people during your holiday, include the names of those men and women. Take some time to send positive thoughts, vibes and prayer to the family they left behind. Every day is Memorial Day for them.
And a bonus, for all business owners... Don’t use this day for a “blowout sale”, it’s just tacky. Big box retailers are going to do it. However, if you are a small business owner, please think about what the military community sees when you offer a Memorial Day sale. For many of us, we won’t patronize your business due to the patronizing of our most personal holiday.
This Memorial Day, let's truly honor the people that gave up their tomorrows so that we could be here today.