Memorial Day began as a way to commemorate the sacrifices of those who died while serving in the armed forces in the US Civil War. Memorial Day has since been expanded to acknowledge our debt to all people who lives were lost in service to our country. As a public we are quick to recognize this holiday with flags, parades, and fireworks. Although important outward gestures, we can fail to delve into this day's deeper meaning.
We can begin to access the essence of Memorial Day by looking to the model that service personnel offer. They demonstrate commitment and steadfastness in service through their spirit, courage, and resilience. In honor of those who have, or are serving, use the following questions to help you tap into your own version of these virtues.
What values compel you to be of service? How can you strengthen your commitment to living those values day to day?
How have you kept the faith when circumstances were bleak? How were you able to cheer on yourself and others despite overwhelming obstacles?
What do you do when an experience is not straightforward? How do you ensure you are not oversimplifying a complex issue or seeking a black-and-white explanation for something that is truly ambiguous?
When have you stood up for your beliefs or taken a stand? What helped you hold fast to your principles?
How has simply being true to yourself been heroic? What fueled you to live an authentic life despite the challenges you faced in doing so?
What made you carry out an action despite your fears about it? When have you conquered your fears and persevered to achieve an outcome that was meaningful to you?
When have you had to bounce back following a difficult time? What thought processes or habits helped return you to a place of strength?
When have you been hurt and used this as a learning opportunity? How did your positive attitude improve your ability to cope?
What life circumstances have restricted your options? How did you reframe these limits into a positive focus on what you can do?
While Memorial Day was originally intended to honor those who paid the ultimate price, we believe it is important to show our gratitude for the sacrifices of all our service members: active duty, retired, living and dead. Take time to remember those who've passed as well as thank those still living. Contemplate the qualities of spirit, courage, and resilience. Discover ways to memorialize those who have given so much by more consciously incorporating these characteristics into your daily life.
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Put yourself in the service mindset. Consider what it takes to volunteer to serve in the armed forces, remembering there are thousands who have done this and thousands who are doing so at this very moment. What might you accomplish in your own life if you were to pledge to give of yourself in a similar fashion? Be thankful for those serving you and remember to find ways to serve others - follow the example of our valiant service men and women!