Memorial Day of 2016 has come and gone. As it is always observed on the last Monday of May, the United States is granted with a beautiful extended weekend, full of BBQ’s, beach volleyball, amazing sales, and the general bliss of a holiday. Working people relish the ‘three day weekend’, taking the time to sleep in and enjoy the pleasure of not having to clock into work. Teens and adults have scheduled getaways and vacations, hitting the beaches and taking in some rays as the summer sun appears in the sky. Kids enjoy the extra day off from school and make it count as well. All in all, it’s a happy time, and seems like a good way to chill out and relax in the perfect brink between the end of school and the beginning of summer.
Did we take a moment to think about the families who aren’t dancing and smiling?
But as we hang out with friends and vacation during this holiday weekend, did we take a moment to think about the families who aren’t dancing and smiling? Did we think about our veterans and their families, the fallen warriors whom this Memorial Day is really celebrating? Let us take a moment away from the BBQ’s and beach parties, and remember those who can no longer do those things with their families. The men and women who lost their life in combat left families behind: mothers who will never see their son again. Fathers who will never see their daughter again. Siblings who will have to remember their older brother or sister only through photographs. Little children who will grow up without a mother or father – who will visit their Mommy or Daddy’s graveside on this Memorial Day, and tell them how much they miss them…
Those images can break a heart.
As long as we remember that those people gave their life for the protection of our freedoms – we can do our best to honor their legacy – in our own way. Not everyone will fight in combat, but everyone can make this country a little greater, a little better, a little more reflective of the strength of those that we commemorate on every Memorial Day. We can each take the strengths that we have, the powers that we possess, and the talents that we are blessed with, to help out our brothers and sisters, and to unify the country that our soldiers are fighting to protect. We can use our education, our careers, and our innermost potentials to encourage each other and to support the veterans that we do know.
As this year’s Memorial Day weekend came closer, I reflected on this message and tried to think of something that I, as a social work student, could do for our country’s brave men and women in service. After some research, I found an outlet that will allow me to use my graduate schooling as well as my unique abilities of interpersonal communication and compassion in the service of others.
I found Give an Hour.
This network gives mental health providers/social workers the opportunity to volunteer their time for one hour a week, giving critical assistance to those who served for our country. Joining this organization will give me the chance to work with a population I may never have encountered, and will help me serve those who are always fighting for our country and for our collective freedom.
So, when next Memorial Day comes around, I will know that although I’ve never fought in combat or camouflage, I will be giving something to those who are. I hope you’ll join me.