A Memorial Day Tradition
‘Karen and Jay share thoughts on the origin and meaning of Memorial Day’
“Drivers, start your engines!” These words made famous by the ‘Indianapolis 500’ car race held in Indianapolis, Indiana, signify for many across the country the unofficial beginning of summer. Traditionally held on Memorial Day weekend every year, last year's event was postponed due to Covid and eventually ran in August without fans and without much of the pageantry that makes the race the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ as it is also known. This year, however, it will be held on Memorial Day once again with fans in attendance at fifty percent of capacity, still an astonishing 200,000 people. It’s yet another optimistic sign that things are returning back to normal.
In attendance at this year's race will be three members of our family who have been going to the race – pretty much every year since they were each 7 years old. After missing out on last year, I knew that if fans were allowed, they would be there without question. In discussing the race this week with one of them, I was reminded of just how much the organizers of the race make sure to faithfully honor the true meaning of Memorial Day as an integral part of the event - paying tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Starting with the pre-race ceremonies, from the presentation of colors, taps, and a 21-gun salute, to the singing of ‘God Bless America’ and the National Anthem, along with a fly-over, all done before the cars even turn on their engines. It’s a powerful tribute that reminds us of the meaning that underlies this special day. Even after having been to 21 races. one of them told me, “No matter who you are, where you’re from, or what your political leanings may be, when you’re at the track, and witness all the pageantry, it’s never lost on you. It makes you incredibly grateful for the sacrifice so many have made just so that we can spend our time together as Americans enjoying our freedoms – even experiencing such simple pleasures as having the thrill of watching cars go fast.”
There are times we forget or lose sight of the meaning of holidays like Memorial Day. But after a year as burdensome as this past year has been, the ability to do the things we love this weekend, thanks to the freedoms we exercise, gives this holiday renewed meaning. Whether going to a favorite car race or having a backyard barbecue with friends and family, we do so thanks to those who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘laid down so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.’ So, I hope you can join me in taking a moment this weekend to express your gratitude for these individuals. A simple, yet fitting tribute, we honor them with our heartfelt thanks, and we honor them by carrying on with our cherished way of life. Happy Memorial Day!
Memorial Day in New Hampshire
Memorial Day is a day specifically set aside for those who fought for our country and did not make it home. In New Hampshire, and across our great country, we honor and remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is sometimes hard to realize that the reason we have so many great things here in the United States today is because someone before us gave their life in the pursuit of something much bigger than themselves. Their reasons may vary whether it be a sense of duty, a love of country, or fighting for one’s family back home but the tragic result is the same. On Memorial Day, we remember them and what they fought for.
But we should not stop there. Our heroes have families, friends, and loved ones who will never get to see them again. Often these families never get to say goodbye. While many of us will spend Memorial Day socializing with friends and enjoying the unofficial kickoff to summer, many families in this country will be remembering their sons, daughters, and friends who never made it back and it is imperative that we keep them in our thoughts and prayers as well. So, while you are enjoying yourself on this extended weekend, please take some time to think about those who we celebrate on this day and take a moment to think about what they fought for. Take your gift of life forward in their memory and use it to its fullest potential.
With this in mind, I thought you might appreciate this touching poem by John McCrae, written during the time of World War I:
“In Flanders Fields”
by John McCrae, May 1915
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
What Memorial Day Means to the Son of a Soldier
A friend of mine recently sent me this amazing piece below about a local North Carolina reporter who shares his emotional story of losing his dad who was a Green Beret and how year after year he would visit Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to his father and other soldiers who lost their lives in service to our country. And, in the process of experiencing his sorrow, he had a remarkable transformation. He developed insights into a larger meaning of Memorial Day and how it relates to our American freedom. Honoring and Remembering. But, also ‘Appreciating.’
Please consider taking a few moments of your time and watch this incredibly impactful video:https://www.wbtv.com/story/32093384/the-long-walk-to-section-60-what-memorial-day-means-to-a-son-of-a-soldier/). I’m certain it will be a worthwhile experience.
Positive Profile of the Week: Jack Heath
I am so proud to live in a state that does so much for our service members and veterans. So many of our friends have joined Karen and I in our efforts to support Children of Fallen Patriots and such other amazing veteran-based groups across our state, such as Veterans Count, Swim with a Mission and many others. It’s in this context that one dear friend truly stands out from the pack - as a tireless supporter and truly a leading voice for our veterans and their families. That is of course, Jack Heath.
Jack is no stranger to the people of New Hampshire. He was news director and vice-president at WMUR where under his guidance, he led the small news station to great success. Not only to become the ‘go to source for news’ in the state of New Hampshire, but also leading the station to national prominence, especially with ‘top notch’ political reporting. After taking a break from being in front of the camera, Jack has more recently achieved both prominence and impact – creating a dominating presence in news talk radio. Today, Jack is the host of ‘Good Morning New Hampshire’ which is aired daily on several stations across the granite state where it is a ‘must listen’ for all those that want to be ‘in the know’ in the granite state.
Many people may not be aware, but Jack’s respect for the military goes back to his childhood, actually losing his father at young age who was an officer in the Marines. Jack’s passion for veterans has also led to him to help create a company where he currently serves on the board helping place military service members in private sector jobs following their service commitments.
Most notably, Jack and fellow veteran supporters have organized and executed the annual ‘Make 12 Hours Count Radio Telethon’ in support of Veterans Count. Year after year with Jack at the helm, hundreds of thousands of dollars are raised to help support the care of veterans.
Jack never shies away from going to bat for our veterans. He provides opportunities for veteran based groups to tell their stories and he encourages everyone to step up and do their part to help those who defend our freedoms. His effort and dedication to this cause is why he received the NSS Certificate from the US Army War College following his participation in their annual national security seminar. .
The progress so many veteran groups have achieved is due in large part to the energy, dedication and passion of Jack Heath. We thank him for his incredible dedication to their well-being!
Quotes of the Week: Memorial Day
“I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
“Memorial Day isn't just about honoring veterans, its honoring those who lost their lives. Veterans had the fortune of coming home. For us, that's a reminder of when we come home, we still have a responsibility to serve. It's a continuation of service that honors our country and those who fell defending it.”
“So many years later, Memorial Day remains one of America's most cherished patriotic observances. The spirit of this day has not changed - it remains a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy."
“I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism.”
“Over all our happy country - over all our Nation spread, Is a band of noble heroes - is our Army of the Dead.”