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Memorial Day Grace & Perspective from an Army Wife

Not sure what to say or do about Memorial Day? Are you supposed to say anything? if so, to whom? This is one Army wife's perspective on Memorial Day Grace.(Last Updated On: May 29, 2017)

Before 2005, Memorial Day wasn’t really on my radar, even coming from a family of servicemen. It was the beginning of summer, BBQs, and I could wear white shoes again.

But wasn’t really tangible for me until I kissed my young man goodbye and sent him to war.

Luckily when I gave my heart to a soldier, he came home to me.

Not every service member comes home, and I cannot speak for their families. I can only speak for my heart on this issue.

Starting a few days ago, posts began circulating on social media about knowing the difference between Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Armed Forces Day.

Spreading knowledge is admirable, but the tone of some posts was hostile.

“Don’t thank my husband on Memorial Day!”

“If you wear the uniform, Memorial Day isn’t about you.”

OUCH! Those hurt MY heart.

I can only imagine the grief that spurred those posts, but is that really the tone we want to have towards ANYONE who is grateful for military service?

Absolutely, Memorial Day is about those who gave all.

It honors those who won’t ever come home: dads, daughters, sons, mothers who sacrificed everything to stand for our nation.

Absolutely, Memorial Day honors those who gave all, but don't reject thanks for those that gave some. Click To Tweet

The depth of that sacrifice is too great to quantify. Boys never returned to marry waiting sweethearts. Men will never meet their child this side of heaven. Mothers will never kiss their babies goodnight again.

It’s too heavy to grasp unless you’ve lost someone.

Not sure what to say or do about Memorial Day? Are you supposed to say anything? if so, to whom? This is one Army wife's perspective on Memorial Day Grace

But I look at those green fields lined with white crosses and see people who will never hear another heartfelt, “thank you for your service.” I also see my husband who will never be the same.

And I think, why reject someone who gets it wrong and thanks a living soldier on Memorial Day? or an active service member on Veteran’s Day?

Gold Star families who lost someone might answer differently, but I imagine if they could thank their loved one more time, they would.

I want everyone to know we celebrate Memorial Day to recognize and honor those who paid the ultimate price, so the next generations understand how valuable their freedom is.

But if you also thank a living veteran or active soldier, that’s okay.

Should you thank a service member on Memorial Day? It's not for them, but reminds us to be grateful. Click To Tweet

Because All gave Some, too. No one serves without risking all.

Take every chance to say thank you while they are alive.

Memorial Day reminds us of those who went willing to make that sacrifice, like my husband. He lived things that haunt his nightmares so I can sleep in peace.

And I never want to discourage someone from appreciating his sacrifices. But we do need to be mindful that some veterans bear emotional scars and even genuine thanks reopens those wounds.

Instead of a harsh rebuke, just say thank you if someone gets it wrong. It comes from a place of gratitude.

If you want to recognize a service member, say, “I know this is Memorial Day, but I so appreciate your service, too.

I want to invite people to understand this military life, its costs and sacrifices as well as its joys and adventures; but there is a price, and I don’t think we can honor those who pay it too often.

Not sure what to say or do about Memorial Day? Are you supposed to say anything? if so, to whom? This is one Army wife's perspective on Memorial Day Grace.

My husband doesn’t stand when service members are recognized, because he doesn’t consider himself a hero.

I love his humility, but I remind him that he stands not for those around him: so our country can recognize his service and sacrifices, and so those around him can connect a face to those who serve.

Memorial Day may be about those who’ve died, but it’s for the living, for us to remember the cost of our freedom. And there is no wrong time to do that.

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33 thoughts on “Memorial Day Grace & Perspective from an Army Wife

  1. Interesting post. I have never really thought about it that way. I appreciate the warning and the grace in this blog.

    1. It is too often I see a military spouse really hurt someone who was just trying to be kind.

    2. It is too often that a well meaning military spouse will hurt someone who just wants to express gratitude and I think there is no need for it.

  2. Exactly – so many did so much and want so little – but just respect from us

  3. Well said, Jen. I cannot agree with you more.

  4. To be honest, I’ve never even thought about the differences in the holidays so I am glad you brought that to my attention. I just always remember and am thankful for all military, whether deceased, active or retired, whether they served in war or not, on those special days. I would think all military would share in the esprit de corps mentality, where all are part of one in spirit and mind. When one dies, others hurt. When one fights, others support. Etc. But I have no close connections to military, so maybe that would be offensive. I know now to be more aware!

    1. My point was that we should act more like a community and celebrate any gratitude towards service rather than offer hostile correction to people who don’t know the difference. That kind of negative attitude doesn’t speak well of us as military or Christians.

  5. I really enjoyed and appreciated this post! Wish I had seen it earlier, because I would have shared over Memorial Day Weekend. I never really knew the difference between the holidays, but a veteran shared them with us at church this past Sunday. It’s important to know why you’re celebrating or observing something, but I agree that if you get a little mixed up and thank someone for their service on the “wrong” day it’s okay. I’m sure they would like to hear an expression of gratitude for their sacrifice on Memorial Day, instead of not at all. This line gave me chills- “knowing he lived things that haunt his nightmares so I can sleep in peace”- wow.

    1. Thank you. That line was one that rocked me too.

  6. Thank you for sharing and opening up my eyes to what the day is really all about. So thankful to all who have served!

    1. It is overwhelming to consider all the costs of our freedom for sure

  7. What a wonderful post! My husband had this happen to him this year. He made a comment about honoring those that have served and was quickly corrected and told that Memorial Day is about those that died serving our country. A mistake he won’t make again but we had a very similar discussion about this exact thing after that. I suppose it’s a good thing since it got us talking about it. Thank you for sharing so eloquently. Beautiful post!

    1. Thank you! I don’t know how your husband felt after he was corrected, but I think I’d rather encourage gratitude than shush it. There are ways to say, “I appreciate all those who’ve served and sacrificed, especially on Memorial Day when we pay homage to those who died in the service of our country.” and support all forms of gratitude with grace and invitation.

  8. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I think you have a wise and compassionate point of view. And too, maybe a lot of living service members and veterans have lost friends and companions in service… so Memorial Day might be awfully personal for those folks too. I have to agree with you that appreciation on any day can hardly be a bad thing!

    1. Yes. Being sensitive to service members who lost friends is so important. I prayed for my husband a lot Monday.

  9. What a beautiful post. I agree with you, it doesn’t matter. I thank them all.

  10. Although I don’t have direct ties to the military within my immediate family, I always tear up a bit when service members are asked to stand to be recognized–and I LOVE when spouses are also asked to stand. There’s a sacrifice in being a solider, but also a sacrifice in being married to one.

    1. Thank you for seeing the costs for both of us. Not even close to the same, but we do sacrifice in many ways too. Thank you!

  11. Beautiful. I do think many never think of those who gave so much so we can live with freedom. And often we forget the spouses who keep the family running back home, and the children who miss mom or dad, too.

    1. The children break my heart the most. My stepsons gave up four years of their childhood. Dad was just gone. They got a few phone calls and letters, but we didn’t really have much access to skype then. I cannot imagine how it hurt them to have a dad who was gone every other year. How it damaged their relationship with their father is something we can’t measure. The kids definitely aren’t considered when the soldiers are repeatedly deployed or sent on two-three year tours without their families. It’s ridiculous.

  12. This is a great post. I hope you and your family had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

    1. As is true with serving our country, he had to work. We enjoyed our Sunday though.

  13. The posts you were talking about sounds like people who just want to put in their opinions and not facts. Thank you for sharing your husband with us as he serves our country.

    1. I think they are just wounded broken-hearted people who mourn a lost service member and their hurts just overpowered their sense. But I still have my soldier, so I try to empathize. Thank you for being mindful of his service. He would say it’s just his job, but I know better.

  14. Wonderful post. So sad that this day has become a day for BBQ and picnics and the true meaning of it has really been forgotten.

    1. We’ve been a safe place for so long, we are out of touch with the cost to keep it that way. I think less than 1% of our nation serve. We just don’t know the cost if we aren’t associated with it.

  15. I love this. We have active military in our family, and they make a great sacrifice. I won’t hesitate to thank them any day of the year.

    1. Every time I see a vet, I try to say thank you if I get the chance, and I thank my husband every time we hear the national anthem. I don’t think you can appreciate their service too much.

  16. I was just talking about this with my husband this morning! I think it is funny so many people don’t know the difference, but I also think there is no harm in thanking a living serviceman. Thank you for this post- you put it all to words very nicely!

    1. I guess I’d rather people thank too often than not enough. And if I were to get mad about something, it would be people who don’t recognize the sacrifices our military make for our country.

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