There are two things that people get wrong about Memorial Day. The first one is obvious — they think that it’s the same as Veteran’s Day. They either forget, or they just don’t know that Veteran’s Day is in celebration of all who have served. Memorial Day is for those who served and lost their lives in battle. It’s a day of remembrance.
The second thing that people get wrong is thinking that it’s just another holiday — something we can skip or ignore. In my opinion, Memorial Day may be one of the most important days of the year. We must never forget the incredible men and women who sacrificed so much for the liberties that we have today. The lessons that their service offers us are abundant. Here are just a few.
Life Lessons to Learn This Memorial Day
1. It Could Always Be Worse, So Have Some Gratitude
Something I say to my kids often is, "It could always be worse." You may think I don’t mean it because it flies out of my mouth so often, but I mean every word. I’ve sat with some incredible people who have served in our military and their tales always impress me. Not because of what they encounter per se, but because of how they have persevered under the most horrible conditions.
Most of us are so cozy in our air-conditioned houses, laying on our Tempur-Pedic mattresses, ordering food on our phones. We aren’t even close to the kinds of conditions that many of our veterans experience. And we’re galaxies away from those who lost their lives under the worst circumstances. So next time you want to complain, look around and remember that it could always be worse. Practice gratitude for even the smallest things that you think don’t matter — the warm shower, the dry socks, the stocked fridge.
2. Embrace Your Family
My family means the world to me. One of the best silver linings of 2020 was being able to be at home nearly all year and spending each day with my wife and kids. Getting back out on the road again was exciting because it meant the world was coming alive again, but leaving the De Sena crew was tough.
When I think about how many men and women have left their family to go and fight our fight, it blows my mind. They have made the ultimate sacrifice, not knowing if or when they’d be able to hold their family again. And many didn’t. The level of commitment that our servicemen and women demonstrated by choosing all of us and our country is bar none.
3. Integrity Matters
One of the things that impresses me the most about those who serve is their unwavering and relentless integrity. Imagine being so dedicated to a principle and set of values that you are willing to die for it.
I’m big on reliability — you do what you say you’re going to do and that’s it. No fuss, no muss. When I speak to active soldiers and veterans, I am struck with how humble they all are. They don’t puff up their chest, tell stories about their heroic duties, and wait for the accolades. They’re committed to one thing — serving their country — and they could care less if I think they’re a badass. This level of integrity always inspires me. It reminds me that what’s most important is getting the work done. Putting your head down, shutting up, and doing what matters.
4. Heroism Isn't Found on Social Media
Nowadays, we can get lost in the little shit. We track social media engagement, calculate things like impressions, and pay attention to what’s trending. Days like Memorial Day remind us that so much of that is useless. Heroism isn’t found on social media, and it’s not wrapped up in how many followers you have. Real heroes are the boots on the ground (or in the sky or out on the sea) that remind us what it truly means to stand for and contribute to something.
We get lost in all the petty stuff sometimes. But when you take a minute to remember how remarkable these men and women are, you let all that other stuff go. It’s a much-needed reminder of the greater things that matter in life.
The Spartan community has always embraced our service men and women. They mean the world to us and we hold a special place for those who have lost their lives fighting for our freedom and liberties. Let’s never forget that incredible contribution.