Memorial Day is a painful day for almost all of the 20 million veterans living in the United States, and for the families and friends who sent loved ones to battle, only to have them never return.
But it also has significance those who pause to recognize the thousands of sacrifices that have been made on their behalf, to protect their right to safety, freedom and liberty.
On average, 4,084 soldiers make the ultimate sacrifice every year in U.S. history for the benefit of our society as a whole, according to the latest estimates from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
These sacrifices often do not stop at the edge of the battlefield.
According to a 2016 VA report, the suicide rate was 1.5 times greater for veterans than for non-veteran adults, after adjusting for age and gender.
Our country has a long standing tradition of courage, service and sacrifice. Every soldier that wears a uniform simultaneously bears a publicly declared belief in these ideals, so much so that they are willing to give their lives to ensure their continuance.
Each one of these men and women leave behind loved ones who are forever touched by their memories. While the general public might not know their names, they too are impacted by their legacies.
In a tweet published on May 27th, former President Obama stated that “It’s up to us to not simply reflect on their sacrifice but to honor it with service of our own — and by living out the values they fought for.”
While we remembered and honored the men and women who gave their lives in the most ultimate way possible on Monday, we ought to also use the holiday to recognize the people who actively live out the values that our servicepeople fight for.
Public servants in a wide variety of capacities actively sacrifice other opportunities that could better their own finances, comfort, and convenience.
Yet they recognize and embody the values that the military lives to, also choosing to make sacrifices for the sake of a greater societal good.
Though we do dedicate a day to remembering the sacrifices that our military makes in our honor, thanking those who have sacrificed is not complete without also honoring those we encounter who similarly embody the values and ideals that those brave people stood to the end for.