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Have a "Happy Memorial Day"?

(Photo courtesy of the Author)

Has anyone ever walked up to you and said, "Happy Memorial Day"?

With tomorrow approaching very quickly, I'll be one of many Americans who remember the greatest men and women this country had to offer and the sacrifice they made. Fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, veterans, children and even grandchildren will be remembering loved ones that never came home. I'm going to be one of those many people. If I could say one thing to everyone in this country, I would ask them to please go out and have a happy Memorial Day.

For gold star families and veterans, every day is Memorial Day. Every moment of every day. We don't ever stop thinking about these things. I personally never stop thinking about my friends, teammates and their families. For a mother, I promise you, she never stops thinking about her child that hugged her goodbye at a company send off, not knowing that would be the last time she ever saw them. This is a pain that is constant and memories that are minute by minute.

There is allot of debate on the "Happy Memorial Day" greeting. I don't speak for anyone but myself, but I personally don't get offended.

When someone knows you're a veteran and greets you with "Happy Memorial Day", they're not trying to be a jerk. They're trying to acknowledge you, your service or your loss. They might know that you lost a loved one or served in a rough theatre of war and wan't to express their gratitude on a day that's set aside just for that gratitude. When someone greets you this way it's an act of kindness. I've personally never come across anyone who has said this and it was ill intended.

I know allot of former teammates read my posts. I also know allot of you have struggled like I have. I want you to know I DO plan on having a happy Memorial Day tomorrow. I plan on waking up grateful, going out to do things I enjoy and surrounding myself with people I enjoy being around. I spend so much of every day of my life thinking about our guys. You might not know this, but I spend allot of that time thinking about their families too. Memorial Day is a great day for America to recognize the best this country had to offer and the fact they gave their lives to support our amazing way of life. My friends and teammates were some of those great and amazing humans. If there is a day on the Callander set aside just to remember them and the sacrifice they made, then I personally plan on spending it trying to enjoy the great life their sacrifice defends. I would never tell you how to live or grieve, and I hold dead to my conviction on how I personally do.

Don't get this twisted. I'm going to cry tomorrow. I'm going to cry allot. It hurts. Even right now writing this blog, it hurts and I feel the demons clouding over me. I've already cried once just writing this and I'm sure it will happen again before I finish. It's a never-ending struggle and if you don't believe me just remember I bought a web domain just to write about my feelings on the internet over a decade after the fact. If that isn't proof enough, I don't know what is. Keep this in mind though...I might cry tomorrow, but there isn't a cloud on earth that's going to rain on the parade I'm about to throw down for the guys. Not a cloud on earth.

I'm very aware there will be allot of gold star families tomorrow who face the struggle. I know many of you keep up with my blog. Some of you are going to turn off your social media, some of you are going to turn off your phones and many of you are not even going to leave the house. I understand that. You have to let yourself feel what naturally comes or you'll face the disaster of avoiding those feelings. I just hope you also know it's okay for you to have a good day, tomorrow. It's okay for you to smile, laugh, feel good about someone you're with or enjoy something you're doing. I know you're going to grieve, but it's okay for you to feel happy on Memorial Day.

To all my widows; It's okay for you to be happy tomorrow. It's okay for you to enjoy the day with your new spouse and enjoy being with the family you finally moved on to create. It's okay for you to be alone, it's okay for you to be with a crowd. It's okay for you to hold old things and cry and it's okay for you to refuse to cry all day. lf I could wish happiness on one individual on a day like Memorial Day, it would definitely be a gold star family member. Don't ever feel guilty for happiness. You deserve it.

To all my Mom's, Dad's, brothers and sisters; It's okay for you to go through photo's and hold clothes tomorrow while keeping the Kleenex nearby. It's okay to not answer your phone or to not look at social media. It's also okay for you to post a hundred photos, smile, laugh or even spend the day out with family or having fun. If someone in the family doesn't like it, then they can kick rocks. Your pain is your pain. Your grief is your grief. Your happiness is also your happiness.

To all the friends and family, there is no obligation for our feelings tomorrow. We've all seen enough of that in our day to day lives dealing with these losses and pain as it is. We all grieve in different ways and that grief has to come out. I would never try to tell you how to feel about the loss of your friends or loved ones on Memorial Day, but I hope you're not letting anyone else tell you how to feel or act tomorrow either. Me personally, I'm going to go out and try to live as full as my friends did and appreciate the good life "ticket" they purchased for me and every other American with their sacrifice.

To everyone who cares; it's okay to be happy on Memorial Day. As a matter of fact, I would strongly prefer you and every other American were, although, I know that won't be the case. I've personally caried so much pain with me over the years from Iraq and Afghanistan and it has intertwined me with so many of you who read my blogs. I'm so thankful for everything I have in life. The chance to live in the greatest country on earth and to have the opportunity tomorrow to honor the memories of some of the best men I've ever known is a privilege. Men who gave everything so I might have that opportunity and this amazing life. I won't miss the opportunity to act on that privilege.

I'll be with y'all in spirit tomorrow, fighting off the tears and the demons. Wherever you are tomorrow, teammates or my gold star families alike, I want you guys to know I never stop thinking about you.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, y'all. I'll hope you'll join me and make it a good one.

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