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Original article posted May 5, 2015.
What does Memorial Day mean to you? I feel sometimes here, in cozy North Jersey, it means that the local pool opens for the summer. Great! Or, for the fashionistas, it means it’s OK to wear lighter colors. Maybe even a seersucker suit for the Wall Street types (at least the bold ones). Or maybe it’s about shopping - great Memorial Day sales! This is America, after all.
All that’s fine. And for me, playing at the pool and choosing which clothes to wear are symbols of our freedom and liberty - and therefore should be rejoiced.
However what I feel gets lost sometimes is the real meaning of Memorial Day. I guarantee if you have lost a loved one In Service you have a different take on this special day, and I know that around military bases, and in families with military traditions, Memorial Day has a deeper meaning. Play Taps - the traditional song for a military funeral - and see what happens. (Hint: you’ll see ol’ Steve-O bawling like a little baby.)
For me, Memorial Day is a chance to reflect and give memory to fallen brothers. And genuinely, to give thanks and a moment of silence for all our brothers and sisters who have passed. Gone but never forgotten!
There are several ways to raise civilian consciousness. Back to North Jersey, where I’ve been for most of GWOT, I see such a disconnectedness on military matters. There are definitely a few returning warriors and some civilians who are switched on and ‘get it’, but the community at large does not understand or appreciate the sacrifices that have been committed on their behalf. So what do we do about that?
Well, that’s a very personal decision. But for me, first, I start small - and personal. Just a gentle reminder of hey, enjoy your Memorial Day! And just remember what it means.
And then maybe a little broader. To my community. For me, that means CrossFit SOAR, which is a beautiful group of good-hearted people who are highly motivated and a hell of a lot of fun. As with many other CrossFit boxes around the world, we do a Memorial Day WOD (workout of the day) called Murph, in honor of fallen Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy. (One of many things I appreciate about CrossFit is that it has a series of ‘Hero WOD’s’, named in honor of fallen warriors/first responders. Kinda keeps us connected with reality.) So we do this WOD, and we talk about Murph and the meaning of Memorial Day. And lo and behold, complaints about traffic jams, family squabbles, etc. just kind of slow down, and folks just get a different vibe. And realize that a WOD is a WOD, by definition it’s temporary, but the ultimate sacrifice is forever.
Anyway, I wish you an awesome Memorial Day, whatever it means to you! And hope that you’ll just take a quick moment to grace the memory of those who paid the perpetual price. And hope you enjoy swimming in the local pool :).
Steve, who served in the 75th Ranger Regiment, is CEO of U.S. Elite and Founder of Crossfit SOAR. You can read more about him here.
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