Memorial Day: Taking the Time to Say Thanks

'Flags-In' at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day 2008

To join the military is to accept that duty may ultimately require you to lay down your life. Despite growing up in a military family, this never occurred to me, and it certainly never occurred to me to be grateful for this sacrifice.

After I moved to New York City post-9/11 I saw a civilian approach a man in military garb and personally thank him for his service to our country.

And then another approached and did the same thing.

And then another.

The sight shocked and humbled me.

This man was on his way to Afghanistan because his duty led him there. Anything could happen. He could come back physically unscathed but wracked with PTSD…or he could not come back at all.

And yet, he knew where his duty lay and he was going quietly, boldly towards it…and no fewer than three stoic, angry New Yorkers approached him personally to say thanks.

What if we all took the time to say thanks?

Just one moment out of one day to acknowledge that the things we have and enjoy are the direct result of the actions of others.

What a good idea.

Turns out, there is a national moment of silence at 3pm every year on Memorial Day to honor all of the fallen American soldiers from all wars in history.


I intend to celebrate Memorial Day in the traditional way, with barbecue and 5K races and water sports and snow cones and pie. I intend to enjoy my freedom and take advantage of all this holiday has to offer.

And yet…

I am also going to take a moment at 3pm to say thanks.