Memorial Day is an occasion to pause and reflect on those people who died in service to their country. My grandfather was one such person who was killed when a German missile hit his ship off the coast of north Africa in 1943.

While days can be ephemeral forms of remembrance, physical memorials are also erected and stand in public places to ensure that we remember consequential events or people.

Memorials also take on very personal forms. In Mexican culture, an ofrenda is constructed on the Day of the Dead to remember lost family members. In your own home you may have objects or photos on your walls and shelves that commemorate a specific event or person that has deep meaning for you.

By definition, a memorial is intended as “something to keep remembrance alive.” In this respect, if done well, our very lives serve as memorials for those we leave behind. The hope being that our lives have had a significant enough impact on others that we are worth remembering. Each positive action, good deed, offer of help, sacrifice, time we made someone feel something special or smile, is akin to a block of granite laid atop one another.

Extending the same metaphor, other actions we take may extract or damage a part of our memorial, perhaps sufficient enough to destabilize it or tear it down all together.

On Memorial Day, we should give pause to remember and be grateful for those who have died in service to others. Yes, starting with those in our military but perhaps also including those who have served in other ways.

It can also be an appropriate moment to consider how we are serving our country, community and family –  asking ourselves, “What kind of memorial is our life erecting? Will our efforts be worthy of remembrance long after we are gone?”


Recommendation of the Week:  Percival Everett’s new book, James, is the best work of fiction I’ve read in some time. Check it out. 

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