Our Special Day Of Memory

On this special day it is easy to forget why we Americans have set aside a single 24 hours of the year to honor those servicemembers who have passed on whether it was through injuries or sickness occurred on the battlefield – or those others who have died in different ways in their line of duty.

Readers here know that I spent 33 years in the military and worked with every branch of the Armed Forces at one time or another over my career. Yet even with that experience as the overriding influence of my adult life I sometimes also tend to overlook what today means.

I say ‘easy to forget’ because it seems, to me at least, that as time passes Memorial Day is increasingly advertised as parties, shop sales, restaurant specials, etc. Even the formerly ever present Memorial Day parades have become less and less prevalent these days.

In the weeks before now we get inundated with almost anything but what today is truly intended for; a moment to take ease from your daily work and have the time to reflect on what others have sacrificed for the American citizens who came along after them.

No one makes us do that.  No government, religion, institution or organization has the right, or truly the power even, to force our appreciations of today or of anything else.  Understanding the importance of this most special day is inside ourselves, and while some feel the loss of ancestors and family loved ones who died in Service every single day, most of us need to be reminded sometimes.

Today is that day.

There are ways to help understand the magnitude of how and why our service men and women, past, present and undoubtedly the future, gave the “last full measure” so that we could enjoy the essential freedoms we have today.

And those freedoms are many. No matter how divided we are in societal ways we all have opportunities to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, mostly without restrictions depending on what it is.  We all know nothing is perfect. We all know that there are ills and prejudices in our country and, in varying degrees, in many of our formal institutions.

The big and important question is what will you and I do about those negatives so as to make the sacrifices made by those we memorialize on this day even more important and effective? Can we carry over the ideals they fought and died for?  Can we look forward with all personal honesty and say that we will try harder to make this a most safe and just country for all of us?

Not only for ourselves and those we know, but for all of our fellow citizens of the United States regardless of how they differ from us.  Personal differences on the battlefield were not anywhere near as important as the mission and our national cemeteries are filled with the dead of every race, religion and social class who did not question who was fighting alongside them.

Today is the day to ask ourselves hard and sometimes bitter questions. If we have been mistreated and insulted in our lifetimes can we rise above that even for a short time? One can never forget those slights, but is it possible to conduct ourselves in the opposite manner of those who harmed us instead of continuing to take it out on others who had no hand in the matter?

I am perhaps the most guilty of all when it comes to forgiving others’ actions but believe me when I say I now take the hard and honest effort to not just recognize what has happened to me but to ensure that I never carry that forward in any way, shape or form. I need to work hard to be the best man I can possibly be and that won’t end until I lie in my grave surrounded by my brothers and sisters in arms.

What does all that have to do with Memorial Day?

First we need to acknowledge that those Americans who fought and died helped to create the space in our lives for something bigger and more fruitful for not only ourselves but so to help our fellow peoples.

That understood I believe the beauty and essence of Memorial Day is this: when we can realize the full extent of what those men and women who died in Service did for us, and even before they died, which we tend to overlook, then we can well and finally understand that their actions allowed us the ability to live in a time and place where we are free to reflect and work on our best selves. They all gave us the freedom and abilities to take actions we deem necessary to lift others around us to be the best those others can be also.

There is no better gift than that my friends and I thank those who we memorialize today from the very bottom of my heart.

LCDR Reed H. Kohberger, USCG (Ret.).

29 thoughts on “Our Special Day Of Memory

  1. Very well said.

    In my youth, I remember everyone flew their flags and the cemetery at the top of the hill did a 21 gun salute.

    I also remember the day being more quiet and less hectic than these days. Nam was winding down.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reed, well said. Thanks to you and all our service men and women who sacrificed so much so we can live in this great country. We need to reflect more about how we are alike than our differences.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A tip of the cap to all that read and comment on here that served in our military in any capacity. Thank you!

    A special tip towards the sky to my special forces nephew who gave it all so that we can all be idiots. He made staff sergeant as a 24 year old. He left a one year old and a wife that haven’t recovered. The family members have tried to wrap their arms around them appropriately, but everything that has been tried over the last 13 years has failed miserably.

    For his family, every day is memorial day…as it is for all those who lost their person.

    Reed I am glad that you capture the spirit of this day so eloquently.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hard to read that about your nephews family every time you post it, but I’m thankful you do so I remember to pray for his family.

      Stay close to them as they need you more than you know it.

      Reed, as always, “we salute you!”

      Peace for the free and peacefulness for the freedom-fighters.


      Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you Reed. Well said as always. Although I don’t have any relatives that died while serving, my fighter pilot son is retiring after 22 years this month. His sacrifices pale compared to others but he is my hero nonetheless.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Well done, Commander Reed. We certainly need more appreciation for those who died in action, more respect for those who serve and have served, and more kindness for everyone.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Reed, while you and I disagree politically we are brothers on this issue. First … thank you for your service!

    One thing I’ve missed most during the plague is working with the sick Vets at the Perry Point VA. It’s hard to believe that these men and women came home in one piece physically but are so disturbed mentally. PTSD is a bitch! My daughters husband a former Marine, has it. I majored in Psychology but am at a loss to understand. I truly missed Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners with them. My holidays were very empty.


    I lost friends in each silly war and I get to visit monthly those that survived but wish they had died!


  7. Well said Commander and thanks to all who served…

    I drove my family up to Conneaut Lake today and fully expected to see many American flags flying but sadly that was not the case.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I for one still believe we can get to a place in America where Memorial Day once again takes its rightful place on the pantheon of special days in America.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks Reed, they used to call it Decoration Day and people would decorate the graves of Civil War dead.
    A few years ago we got the cemetery to recognize my father with a flag since he served in the Merchant Marines. My three uncles fought In WWII, two were Marines, one Army. I also had three Great Uncles that fought in WWI and a first cousin that died in VietNam. At least once a year you are reminded to think of their sacrifices.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Reed, it is sad to see that so many of our young adults lack the perspective and appreciation for all who have served our country to guarantee our freedoms. When I see interviews where young adults, who should know better, seem totally ignorant of history and the sacrifices of previous generations, well, it makes my blood boil.

    If this country falls, it will be because current and future affluent, young generations got fat and happy without the need for sacrifice. They don’t know what it means to sacrifice for your country.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank your for the poignant comments, Reed.

    Because this day has also become an informal kickoff to the summer, the true meaning can get blurred or even lost at times. Important that we all keep it in perspective.


  12. This timely quote is attributed to Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum of the UAE and was in response to his concerns that today’s affluent generation will be soft and not capable of maintaining a successful society:

    “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a car, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a car, but his son will ride a camel”…

    We are a 240 year old democracy that is starting to crack around the edges like the fat and happy Roman Empire did before collapse. Will we see an awakening among future generations that more hard work is needed to preserve this great country? I hope so for my grand kids’ sake…

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Most of us kids of the greatest generation are in the 4th quarter of life. The kids we raised and their kids have no idea of the price and sacrifice the men gave who went before us. Need more teaching on American greatness and exceptionalism (in spite of our warts) sooner rather than later.


      1. It can happen at home – I continue to educate my 30 year old and his kids on the history of our great country. Also, trips to historical sites in Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Erie, Washington DC and Jamestown are all within driving distance.

        We must be intentional, similar to our good friend Commander Reed.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m a big believer in required military service just like what Israel does. One of my regrets is never getting involved with reserves or the guard. I was too old to apply. Yep. 40 was too old at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve always believed that the US should institute a mandatory 12 to 24 month “Public Service Obligation” for citizens 18-24 years old. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be the military but it would be designed to not only be a commitment and service to the US but also to enrich the person while being in it.

    Apprenticeship in Civil Service, serve in the Peace Corps, National Parks & Rec, National Fire Service, Police Auxiliary, etc… along those lines. If a 18 year old chose the 12 month obligation then he’d receive 12 months of the above with a salary paid for by the Feds.

    18 learning months in a junior college would be an Associated Degree or close to it – then low interest loans to cover the rest.

    Pay the trainees a good wage and allow them a month for month credit toward either a good trade school, Junior College or a four year degree.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. At least he can block a shot now and again…

    Gueye, who has one year of eligibility remaining, averaged 9.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.1 blocks last season for Stony Brook, which finished 9-14 (7-9 in the America East Conference). He was named American East Defensive Player of the Year in 2020-21 while finishing his two-year Stony Brook career with a school record 2.4 blocks per game (129 total).



    1. Damn. Saw him dominate Buffalo during my days in New York. I was a happy Pitt fan that day because of him. Life is too short.


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