Today is the day that many Americans use to honor military service. We think about those who gave their lives in epic conflicts, as well as those who spent months and years in faraway lands, defending freedom by their mere presence.
Many of us will have a barbeque if the weather is right, or just take the day off of work to relax and play. A few Americans will even take the time to volunteer and give something back by participating in events organized by military support organizations like the USO.
But what about the rest of the year; is there something that we can do that can honor the sacrifice of so many in the name of our country? Better yet, is there something we can do that our men and women in uniform would deem worthy of their sacrifice?
I write from personal experience. I write this after giving 20 years of my life in service to my country. I can’t speak for everyone in uniform, but I can tell you what I consider to be worthy of all I have done for my country.
In 1989 I joined the Navy right out of high school. I enlisted in the navy to see the world and get money for college. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize a greater purpose for my life. That purpose, for me, was to dedicate my life to people I will never meet. I stood watches, cleaned toilets, and learned the basics of my navy rate (job classification) so that others could pursue the American dream. Not the dream of owning a home with a white picket fence, 2.5 children and a dog playing in the yard. I did what I did so that you can follow your heart and fulfill your dreams to the best of your ability. I worked in some of the worst conditions imaginable so that men and women in the combat zone could come home. Those people, who slept in holes they dug in the earth, fought for the lives of the person next to them, and I performed my job to the best of my ability so that naval aircraft could provide an umbrella of protection over those men and women.
Each of us, in our own way, fought for freedom.
So, if you want to honor our service, don’t just buy a yellow ribbon magnet for your car that’s made in China. Buying a bumper sticker is literally the least you can do.
Instead, the best thing you can to do honor the sacrifice of so many is to use their gift of freedom. Earn their sacrifice by following your dreams, and support the dreams of other Americans around you. I don’t care if your dream is to open a restaurant, or climb a mountain. Be that American who does whatever it takes to make your particular American dream come true, and do what you can to help others achieve their dream.
We are a nation of people of many cultures, descended from giants of liberty, and our inheritance is freedom and equality for all men and women.
Have a great Memorial Day, enjoy your friends and family, and please take a moment to remember the blood that has been willingly spilt on the altar of liberty. Then, when Tuesday morning comes, be what you were meant to be, or figure out how to make it happen.
You are an American, and you have the freedom to seize your birthright and fulfill your destiny.