Every year I am privileged to write this newsletter, remembering those servicemen and women who lost their lives serving our nation. Growing up, I had the privilege of parents, uncles, and grandparents who shared their autobiographical and collective memories from as early as the Spanish American War. It was ingrained that putting up a flag on that day, was not about political affiliation, but of honor.
Along with remembering the fallen, the holiday, for many of us, represents a kick-off to summer and a yearly tradition of getting together with family and friends which could include barbecued hotdogs and baseball games to the first camping trip and potato salad.
As I write this and head into the holiday weekend, my heart feels “complicated” if there is such a thing; not only am I thinking of the peacekeepers who are spread across the globe, including Ukraine, but I’m thinking about people we have lost through military service, to COVID, to suicide, to overdose, to violence (as recently as the horror of what just happened in Texas).
On a personal front, I’m wondering if we’ll get together with our small family here in Reno, as COVID impacted their entire household this past week.
So. Much. Loss.
My heart feels heavy today, but not all days. Some days work is productive and rewarding and “business as usual.” On other days an appointment takes three times as long. Or someone gets sick and plans are canceled, or meetings get pushed back. Some weeks are spent with several medical appointments for my brother and odd ones that unexpectedly arise for myself and my husband, others weeks it’s a relief to only have to do every day tasks. I like those weeks.
Equilibrium has been evasive the last few years since elections and COVID, and it is a sense that things are just “off” like someone is constantly messing with the ball machine and changing the speed.
What exactly does this have to do with Memorial Day? I certainly can’t lump all this loss and all this chaos into today’s article, can I?
Well, yeah, maybe.
See, what I’ve learned from my best buddy Jordan who was a career military guy, was that most folks don’t have a true or active connection to someone who served. In the 21st century, the number of men and women serving in the military is considerably lower than years ago. So, for many of us, Memorial Day is about a well-deserved day off and perhaps a tradition with friends/family. And this year, we face a new scenario, as many of us are connected to the millions of souls lost to COVID or their loved ones. We’re all linked on different levels, on different days, through different experiences.
So why and how do we honor these people in a meaningful way? Specifically, how do I respect those who have departed and celebrate the living?
To my way of thinking, the only thing I know how to do is to put up my flag as my dad taught me, tell stories about our loved ones we’ve lost, make the holiday something more than just another Monday, and be present for myself and others. Yes, and be grateful that I have yet another day, while others might not. For me I need to:
- Remind me to give my brother a genuine hug after I do an errand for him that took me away from work and just not run out of his door;
- Put down my phone and give my husband a big wonderful kiss even though he’s just come home from work covered in slurry and sweat;
- Hide a clue and a prize for my 8-year-old neighbor Tanner who loves scavenger hunts;
- Invite my neighbor, who just recently lost her husband to a heart attack, over to talk about anything or nothing at all;
- Have more patience and a sense of humor when I run into other folks, at the store or on the roads or whom have not gotten back to me, that might be having a really bad day;
- And I need to celebrate every day that I can wake up, without sickness, without pain, grab my cup of coffee and check out what insects ate what in my garden, and just marvel that I’ve got another day to experience.
So my friends and our dedicated readers … wherever this Memorial Day finds you, I hope that you will have the time to feel and to give love and care, and honor. To take a breath, to share some laughs, or to just give some time to yourself.
Thank you to those of you who are working today at our casinos and hotels, making this day special for everyone else that needs an escape and looking to have some fun.
Executive Editor, Tribal Gaming and Hospitality Magazine