Remembering on Memorial Day
Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., a holiday honoring those who have lost their lives in military service. Many also consider today the unofficial kick-off of summer: the lines are long to buy hotdogs and hamburgers, and gas prices are up due to all the road trips. I think for a lot of people, it’s mentally easier to focus on the celebration of summer, and to try not to think about the true focus of the day. That’s understandable. But even if you don’t have a connection to someone who is honored today, others around you do, and they will appreciate your empathy.
My dad was a combat medic in Vietnam. He saw…a lot of terrible things. He lost friends. He doesn’t want to talk about it much, but I know there are a lot of strong emotions. Many service people feel anger, sadness, and guilt that they lived when others didn’t, and holidays such as Memorial Day can be very difficult.
These feelings often stay with the person their whole life. We can encourage those who often feel disconnected to reconnect with others. Last summer, while consulting with a client in D.C., I had the pleasure of working with a nonprofit called Vet Tix: Tickets for Troops. It’s a nationwide organization that takes donated tickets to cultural and sporting events, and distributes them to military families. Each recipient is asked to write a thank-you letter with a picture (often a happy selfie) to the donating organization, and many did. It resulted in rich experiences on both sides, and a lot of wonderful stories to tell.
Nonprofits are charged with improving lives, and arts ticket programs like this help people connect. If Vet Tix sounds like a good match for your organization, please check them out.
In a time when it seems like everything is political, and “if you’re not with us, you’re against us,” we can all agree on the importance of taking care of those who need our stories most of all.
This week’s mission:
Are military families a group you reach out to on a regular basis? Do you have any specific programs that encourage their attendance to your events and participation in your organization? Perhaps you’ve been considering this for a long time, and just haven’t put it in place. Let this be be the catalyst for you to start that conversation this week.