For many, Memorial Day is a special occasion to get together with family and friends, cook on the grill, and open the pools for the start of summer. Memorial Day is an extra day off from work and school, providing a long weekend for outdoor activities and social posts expressing “home of the free because of the brave”. For me, Memorial Day is a much more somber day filled with remembrances of the fallen soldiers of past and present wars.
Many Americans don’t understand the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Both holidays stir up excitement and patriotism but Memorial Day isn’t always given the respect it should. While Veterans Day is a time to celebrate, Memorial Day is a time to memorialize and honor the fallen soldiers of war.
Every Memorial Day, I reflect on the loss of my friend, Corporal William Bradley Fulks, who died on May 18, 2006, just three days after his 23rd birthday. An improvised explosive device (IED) detonated beneath his Humvee near Fallujah, Iraq and the blast inflicted second and third degree burns over 60 percent of his body. In a memorial tribute to his fallen comrade, Lieutenant Waller recalled a quiet and humble professional “It was easy for me to tell that the men in the platoon felt comfortable around Brad whether out in town or outside the wire – they felt protected.”*
These are the stories we must protect and share to keep the spirits of our fallen soldiers alive and remind Americans why Memorial Day matters. As one purple heart recipient said, “You live forever if your memory is never forgotten”.
The upcoming Memorial Day Run & March in Castle Rock, CO is a great opportunity to come together with active duty military, Veterans, and civilians alike to honor and remember fallen American soldiers. Whether you are participating in the run and marching the “Hill for Heroes” honoring Colorado’s fallen, or just enjoying camaraderie and support at the indoor event center, you can support our efforts to remember and honor America’s fallen soldiers.
Let’s remember and honor America’s fallen and support those who are still facing battles here at home with PTSD, TBI, and other injuries. Memorial Day matters – this is our chance to honor those who gave all for their country, regardless of their education, privilege, race, or religion. Let’s come together and keep the memory of our friends and loved ones alive who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Join us at Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock on Saturday, May 26th to attend for free, or register for the race the day-of and help us raise food and donations to feed homeless Veterans while memorializing our fallen heroes. Registration opens at 6:30 am. See the website for more details.
Kristin McFarland is the Chief Marketing Officer and Events Director at Colorado Veterans Project. She volunteers to keep the nonprofit’s special events successful to continue to see Colorado Veterans Project foster relationships between Veterans and Veterans organizations, and to continue to strengthen a more supportive community for Veterans and military families. In her free time, Kristin loves spending time outdoors, learning djembe, or playing her guitar to fuel her passion for creativity. Connect with her on LinkedIn.