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This last week as I attended SOFIC in Tampa, Florida, I had the opportunity to visit the UDT/SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce. It was my first time to visit the museum and the first time I had the chance to look at the memorial wall that was erected to remember each member of the UDT/SEAL community that has fallen since they born in the waters of Ft. Pierce.
Out of these men on the wall, I knew four during my time in the Navy and at BUD/s, Marc Lee, Alex Ghane, Ryan Job and Jason Workman. Before I left my visit at the museum, I went inside to ask if they had a piece of paper that I could use to make a rubbing on the wall of my friends. The man I asked said “I can do better than that” and proceeded to grab a large piece of felt-like material, a big black crayon-looking puck and head towards the door. He said, “I’d be honored to help you” and I admit that my allergies got to me a bit as I thanked him.
I’m not comfortable with that fact that my friends are up on that wall and I’d rather be able to pick up a phone, or see these men in person again one day. They gave their tomorrows so that we could have today and this is what Memorial Day is all about to me. Honoring their sacrifice and never forgetting.
This is why I’ll be at the Carry The Load event in Dallas today and tomorrow, walking for 20 hours and 12 minutes with a brick for each of these warriors. Rather than try to express the meaning of Memorial Day here, I’d like to present an excellent article written this week by Debbie Lee, Marc Lee’s mother and founder of America’s Mighty Warriors, a charity that’s near and dear to us at ITS Tactical.
Fallen But Not Forgotten
Memorial Day weekend has kicked-off and people all over the nation are jumping into their cars, RVs and Motor homes to take advantage of the three-day weekend. Everything is packed and ready to go after weeks of focused planning. Many have anticipated this weekend for months and planned for camp-outs, parties, fun at the lake or beaches and just a little R&R.
For those who choose to stay home you can take advantage of the “Huge Blow Out Sales” on everything from mattresses to cars, oh and don’t forgot all those sales at the market for that big BBQ. Many kids are cheering as this marked the end of their school year and the swimming pools are opening for the season.
It seems every ad in the newspaper, commercial on TV or banner reminds us to “Celebrate Memorial Day” or wishes you Happy Memorial Day! The majority of Americans don’t even find those statements conflicting, or understand what Memorial Day is really about.
Let’s check the dictionary, a memorial is an object which serves as a focus, for memory of something, usually a person (who has died) or an event, day a unit of time. Memorial Day was always the 30th of May until 1968 when Congress changed it to the last Monday in May so to allow for a three day weekend, now known as Memorial Day weekend. As a nation we have set aside this time to reflect (to think seriously) and remember (to recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory) our brave military heroes who gave their life in combat. This requires effort and serious thoughts not celebration and happiness.
As I child I remember getting together with family for picnics or BBQs and we looked forward to camping trips or trips to the lake. There were a few trips I remember to the cemetery, but it was to place flowers on deceased relative’s graves who had never served in the military. I thought Memorial Day was to remember loved ones who had died. I wasn’t taught and therefore I missed the opportunity to teach my children that Memorial Day is to remember those who paid the ultimate price. Freedom comes with a price, it isn’t free.
It really was my son, Marc Alan Lee who taught me about Memorial Day. Please take a momemt to watch this tribute video.
I have been on a campaign for years to Reclaim Memorial Day and educate and challenge people about what Memorial Day is really about. Many well meaning people still choose to make their speeches or advertising about thanking and honoring our troops on Memorial Day. As a nation that’s why we have Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day to do that. Personally, I’ve made it my mission to honor and thank the troops everyday, but our focus, our speeches, our thoughts of remembrance are to be on our brave warriors who gave their final breath defending everyone in America and what we stand for.
If you are a Gold Star family member everyday is Memorial Day for you, not a day goes by that we don’t remember our son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, or spouse who gave all of their tomorrows so we could have today. We remember them with pride and pain.
I don’t have to focus or use effort to remember Marc’s smell, his laughter, his grin, his hugs, his playful antics and sense of humor, his voice or who he was and how he impacted every life he touched. He was a gift that God gave me for 28 years and I was blessed that God picked me to be his mother. That young man did more in his 28 years than most do if they live to an old age. Marc successfully completed his mission and I know where he is and I will see him again one day.
I founded America’s Mighty Warriors in response to Marc’s last letter home and our mission is to honor and support our troops and the families of the fallen. I understand Freedom is not Free! I will be that voice for our troops and those who have laid down their weapons and left their boots behind and have no voice.
Have we as a nation placed our priority on fun and self fulfillment for Memorial Day weekend and forgotten our fallen heroes who died in combat?
Not only will I be remembering my son Marc whose name means Mighty Warrior, but I will be remembering every one of America’s Mighty Warriors who gave their lives, no matter what conflict, what branch of military they served in, how old, married or single, enlisted or officer. I will remember their sacrifice and their families and will live my life in a way that would honor them and make them proud!
I’m challenging you to make the effort this Memorial Day Weekend and REMEMBER those who died so you could have the freedoms you have. EDUCATE yourself, your family and those in your sphere of influence as to what this weekend is really about and then HONOR our fallen heroes and their families left behind. Attend a memorial event near you, stop and decorate the grave of a fallen hero, watch a movie or read about a fallen war hero, begin conversations reflecting and remembering, find a Gold Star family or teammate of a fallen servicemember and thank them and show your gratitude and remember to pray for them.
I remember when I was driving from Phoenix to San Diego for Marc’s funeral and we were stopped in traffic because of a bad wreck that had shut down the freeway. I had an envelope with pictures of Marc for the service and remembered looking at people in the cars next to me. Their lives were going on normally and had no clue that my son had just given his life in Ramadi and ours would never be the same. I had this urge to get out of the car and show them Marc’s picture and tell them his heroic story. I remembering questioning my thoughts, how weird, I thought to myself. Since then I’ve heard that from so many Gold Star families, they feel the same, we just don’t want you to forget our loved ones. As a nation we owe it to our fallen heroes, they gave it all for us.
“A nation who forgets it’s defenders will itself be forgotten” ~ unknown author
Remembering our fallen,
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I for one never forgot how to "celebrate" memorial day. I served in the USAF but never had the opportunity arise that I needed to use my training. For better or worse.
I sincerely feel for those families that have lost people near to them and can only imagine the indescribable pain they must feel when they are reminded of their short lives.
Regardless myself and my family treat the day as a day of remembrance and wish the Lee family and every family with loved ones that are serving or have served in our grand military the best.
I for one never forgot how to "celebrate" memorial day. I served in the USAF but never had the opportunity arise that I needed to use my training. For better or worse. I sincerely feel for those families that have lost people near to them and can only imagine the indescribable pain they must feel when they are reminded of their short lives. Regardless myself and my family treat the day as a day of remembrance and wish the Lee family and every family with loved ones that are serving or have served in our grand military the best.
Awesome foundation, I haven't forgotten those that have served and are serving our great country. Thanks to guys like Marc we can have and enjoy freedom! My prayers go out to all the family's of these great warriors! I will never forget to send prayers up for those who gave their life for our country and those who are serving now.
Awesome foundation, I haven't forgotten those that have served and are serving our great country. Thanks to guys like Marc we can have and enjoy freedom! My prayers go out to all the family's of these great warriors! I will never forget to send prayers up for those who gave their life for our country and those who are serving now. Touching article.