Finding a Connection this Memorial Day

Memorial Day holds personal significance for a dwindling number of Americans. As a nation, we may be losing the capacity to remember and honor shared sacrifices to those servicemen and women who lost their lives serving our nation.

What I’ve learned from my dear friend, Retired Army Col. Jordan Chroman, is that most Americans are not personally acquainted with someone who served. According to the Military Times, “More than 12 percent of the U.S. population served in the armed forces during World War II.” According to Pew Research, “The number of active-duty service members dropped from 3.5 million in 1968, during the military draft era, to about 1.3 million in today’s all-volunteer force. Active-duty service members now comprise less than 1% of all U.S. adults.”

There are many who visit cemeteries, where volunteers place American flags on graves. However, for many of us who don’t have a personal connection to this somber holiday, this three-day weekend may signify the beginning of summer, visiting family, potato salad, hotdogs, appliance sales, and even watching the Indy 500.

Growing up, I had parents, uncles, and grandparents who shared their collective memories of serving in the military, since the Spanish American War. They told me about individual sacrifices and the way their communities, the nation, had to work together, to survive. My father and uncles didn’t talk much about their active duty overseas in WW2; however, my mother Maggie, was an Army nurse, and told me many stories about the Italian prisoners of war she treated as well as hundreds of her own countrymen. In more recent history, both Jordan and I lost a very good childhood friend who was killed serving in the Marines.

It was ingrained in me that putting up a flag on that day was not about political affiliation but about recognizing the loss of life.

Perhaps this Memorial Day, we’ll find ways to be more connected to our military. And maybe this is also an opportunity to find new meaning in this historic holiday, to connect and communicate with more patience with our neighbors who are “on the other side of the aisle” – to focus on what we have in common and most of all, to find ways to heal and strengthen our divided nation, one relationship at a time.

Most Sincerely,

Christine Faria

Executive Editor, Tribal Gaming & Hospitality Magazine

PS – At IGA this year I had the pleasure of meeting two representatives from Home Base. This organization addresses the unique needs of Native American Veterans, Service Members, Military Families and Families of the Fallen to help heal their invisible wounds of war at no cost to them.  Please read the Memorial Day Message from the desk of Executive Director Retired Brigadier General Jack Hammond.