“Happy Memorial Day; thank you for your service.” I said this sincerely to a good friend of mine. He’s a veteran of the Iraq War and serves as an officer in the Marine Corps today. I’m sure I must have said this to him before, but this year he corrected me.
“I appreciate it, but it’s not for the living; that’s Veteran’s Day.”
I guess I already knew this, but always wish to show respect at every opportunity. My friend explained himself later, hoping he wasn’t too harsh and clarifying what he meant.
There was no need. He understood firsthand the sacrifice made by the fallen, and was doing his part to preserve the meaning of the holiday marking their courageous acts.
It made me wonder: beyond observing Memorial Day, what could we do that would be worthy of the sacrifices made on our behalf throughout the history of this country? As often happens, the question led me straight back to community development.
Now, I’m no historian, sociologist, or psychologist, but I would be willing to bet that a good number of those who enlisted in our armed forces did so because they cared deeply for our country as understood through the lenses of their many hometowns, states, and regions. I would bet that they wanted to contribute to that country in the best way they knew how.
I would bet that a good number of these folks enlisted, and often laid down their lives, so that we would have the opportunity to live in good, strong, and healthy communities.
We must not squander that opportunity. We must do what we can to preserve such communities where they exist and to create them where they do not.
We can each thank our veterans and commemorate the sacrifice of the fallen in different ways. I have a friend who rides his bike hundreds of miles to support disabled veterans. I know a musician who uses his talent to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.
As for me? I’m going to continue doing all I can to seize the opportunity granted to us: the opportunity to live in good, strong, and healthy communities. That begins with community development.
That’s why we have a mission at The Small Street Journal to tell the stories of community development. That’s why we aim to find stories that, by their very nature only exist at the local level, to weave these stories together, and by doing so, to tell the greater story of how this country is preserving and rediscovering its sense of community.
So, I’ll continue thanking our veterans and commemorating the fallen by attending ceremonies on Memorial Day and thanking them on Veteran’s Day. But, I’ll also be writing as much as I can for The Small Street Journal. It’s a small token compared to the sacrifices made on my behalf, but it’s also part of an effort to realize a vision of community for which so many have fought and died.
You can join us in two different ways:
- Follow the blog, like us on Facebook, like our stories and share them as you see fit
- Help us uncover those local stories of community development. You can write your own piece or just give us a lead. You can send us a message here or on Facebook.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for supporting our efforts. And, to our veterans: thank you for all you’ve given us.