Byron's Babbles

Memorial Day Reflections

Posted in Global Leadership, Inspirational, Leadership, Spiritual by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on May 25, 2015

  This year’s Memorial Day is different for me. It has more meaning and has a more real context than any time in my life. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to serve on The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonel’s Honor Flight on May 16th as a Guardian. That experience changed my life forever. In my family growing up we always celebrated Memorial Day, or “Decoration Day” as my dad called it. That was actually the holiday’s first name. It began in the years immediately following the Civil War, at which time it was observed primarily as a day for “decorating” military graves with flowers and commemorating the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers. By the twentieth century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died in all wars while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

I’m often astonished at the lack of honor some display toward our Veterans. For us who sacrifice little—if anything—and yet have no qualms about enjoying the luxury and freedom provided by this country we belie our lack of gratitude with our cavalier attitudes toward those who have served our country. We should hold to the true meaning of this day. Alas, for too many Americans, Memorial Day has come to mean nothing more than another three-day weekend, albeit the one on which the beaches open, signifying the beginning of summer. Unfortunately, the tendency to see the holiday as merely an opportunity to attend a weekend cook-out obscures even the vestiges of what the day was meant to observe: a solemn time, serving both as catharsis for those who fought and survived, and to ensure that those who follow will not forget the sacrifice of those who died that the American Republic and the principles that sustain it, might live. Some examples might help us to understand what this really means. 

 These examples were plentiful for those of us taking part in the Honor Flight. Hearing of the sacrifices and seeing the emotions of the veterans on this trip were life changing for me. It was also a life changing experience for the Veterans as well. Allow me to share an excerpt from an email the Veteran I served as a Guardian for sent me yesterday:

“This morning particularly have been reflecting on our trip to DC . For me sharing that experience together produced a bond that seems to transcend the time we’ve known each other. At any rate reflecting today & tomorrow on the sacrifices of our fallen comrades . It seems the meaning of the day has become lost . Much like Christmas we forget it’s the celebration of our Savior’ birth. Finally 2 things:  1. YOU made our honor flight very special; 2. My life is richer having met & got to know you. God sure dealt us a good hand when he put us together. I don’t know what I would have felt if you hadn’t been with me.” ~ Dr, Jerry McCandless, Korean War Veteran

I am humbled at the thought of those who have put themselves in harms way on my/our behalf…people they don’t know. The beauty of the Honor flight is it gives us the chance to really get to know one another. The Honor Flight gave me the opportunity to better understand our nation’s history and appreciate the price paid for our freedom. I encourage all to find some way to serve our Veterans, whether through serving on an Honor Flight, or some other volunteer service. We need to all commit our time, talents, or treasures to our Veterans. Thank you to everyone who has served and those who are serving us through our military and our great country. I am in awe of all our heroes on this Memorial Day!

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