Memorial Day Significance Has Been Forgotten

The National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, VA

The National D-Day Memorial, Bedford, VA

“Happy Memorial Day!”  

I cringe when I hear people gleefully share these three words as they wave their goodbyes and begin their long weekend.

To tell the truth, I find it offensive. It annoys me that that the American people have little clue what Memorial Day commemorates.

We have developed an overindulgent need in our society to display niceties. Then, there are many who are simply, by nature, complaisant.

There also seems to be an ever-increasing trend toward shaming or “guilting” others into bending-over-backward to ensure political correctness toward those who have served in the military. Perhaps, this is the reason most have confused Memorial Day with Veterans’ Day of November 11th.

Arlington National Cemetery Gravestones

Arlington National Cemetery Gravestones

The importance and significance of Memorial Day is to remember the men and women who died while serving–killed in war. Veterans’ Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

I did not serve in a war. Yet, this much I do know…

Memorial Day is a sacred day

Anyone who has served in a war zone does not need this reminder, for every day is a memorial day for them.

As a veteran, it is my duty to remind you that the sacrifice others have made is meaningless if you do not take the time to remember them.

We must, as a nation, recall and be keenly aware of those who have died to protect our freedoms of citizenship.

This day seems to have morphed over the years to become, to most Americans, another day off—a three- or four-day weekend to over-indulge, over-extend, and pull the covers over their eyes rather than soberly look at the sacrifices that have made for them so they have the freedom to do all of these things.  It has been turned it into a party that has absolutely nothing to do with honoring our country’s fallen men and women in uniform.

For the most part, this nation (and its people) have forgotten what patriotism truly means. We now take the freedoms we all enjoy and have forgotten that there were others who agreed to walk through death’s door to pay for that freedom.

Widow at the grave of her hero.

Widow at the grave of her hero.

Yet, when we honor our war dead, it is a way to preserve their service, sacrifice and memory. We have a moral obligation to continue to remember them all, so that this nation continues to do so for the generations that will follow when we are long gone.

Those who have lain down their lives came from all parts of this country—big cities, rural areas, coastal towns, Midwest, deep south, etc.—and they came from all backgrounds—blue collar, white collar, educated, uneducated, men, women, all races, and all creeds.

The bond that tied them all together was the loyalty to this country.  They loved their country and its citizens enough to serve, even when not always in agreement with the whys, and wherefores.  They became a band of brothers and sisters–a mish-mash of diversity in culture, education, experience, and gender—to show the world that they were united in their loyalty to the values for which this country was built.

We must remember those we have lost…those we have loved…those who have sacrificed their lives for those who would live long after they were gone.

Let them be gone, but not forgotten. 

Please teach others the importance of remembering these fallen heroes. Take the time with your family and friends to honor and pay a special tribute to these military members who cared enough about your freedom to lay down their lives for you.

flowers-14207_640It may be as simple as taking that minute of silence at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, wherever you are, to think about your freedom.  Or you could place small flags at the gravesites of fallen soldiers.   Attend a parade.  Support those organizations that put together programs to honor our veterans.  There are so many ways you can do this individually or as a group.

It is not an old-fashioned tradition that we can forget.

This is as pertinent today as ever, because we have Americans who have served in wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  We have lost more than 5300 men and women in combat alone since 2001, and we owe as much to them today as we did in wars past.

Memorial Day was not designed as a commemoration to mark the beginning of summer and our parties and barbecues.  It was designed to become a tradition to allow for the memories of heroic men and women to not be forgotten.

Not only do we owe this to our war dead, we owe this to our children and grandchildren.  It is up to us to continue to pass on the legacy of patriotism in our young people.

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More from Coral:  Memorial Day and Why I am Annoyed

(Author’s note:  Originally written and submitted on 5/31/2010 at Associated Content/Yahoo Contributors Network. All rights retained by author when site closed. Revised for today’s submission.  All photos courtesy of Pixabay.com License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ and free for use.)

Bandaids Don’t Help

Coral:

I have recently had several people open up to me in ways that they feel quite vulnerable. It reminds me of something I wrote in response to a friend’s email to me soon after he had been fired from a prestigious position at a company, and was at a low point. Several weeks ago, this friendship ended without any explanation, and I found myself feeling the pain of old wounds being ripped open.

How I need to remember to keep my heart open to others who value me in their lives, and stay genuine to who I am. I must not live in fear of rejection.

Originally posted on BEYOND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE:

I am frequently reminded that, when I allow others to see me as I truly am, those who are truly willing and capable of loving me (in spite of myself) will not falter in that emotion.

This does not require perfection, but it means connection as it is truly meant to be.

This weekend, I was able to test that theory, as my intended “relaxing retreat” gave way to dealing with feeling poorly, and a silly (and still mysterious) injury to my knee. Yet, I committed to allowing others to see the authentic me and living in whatever moments were given to me.

All in attendance–participants and staff alike–were instrumental in making it comfortable for me to be true to myself and experience all that life has given to me…Love, laughter, pain, healing, nurturing, and so much more.

I am so grateful to Harmony Hill Retreat Center for giving me…

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Can You H#$% Me?

HELPWhy is it that people have so much trouble asking this question?

You know…the “H” question.

So many people avoid the utterance of the H-word like the plague.

Yet, they will freely litter their communication with S-words, B-words, C-words, R-words, and N-words.  Of course, some also use every variation of the F-word known imaginable to man. I cannot discount the fact that the well-placed F-bomb can be highly effective.  But we will leave that for another day.

H-E-L-P!

Does spelling out this four-letter word make it easier for you to say?

Asking for help is not always easy, especially for those having been raised that it is a sign of weakness to do so.

Perhaps, early life lessons were taught that one should never “owe” another, so receiving any help obligates someone for life?

One must know the difference between need and want. The intention must not be to purposefully manipulate others to take advantage of them and their generosity. It requires humility, honesty, openness, and vulnerability.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when help, support, or assistance is needed. Even though it may be difficult, accepting occasional help is a reminder of humanness, and offers healing. It offers a way to show heart from the giver, as well as the receiver.

Yes, HELP is a four-letter word, but the utterance of this word does not mean that shame or guilt must accompany it.

Just like the F-word, it can be quite effective when used properly. Learn how to use it wisely.

I Learned How to LIVE by Facing a Big Demon

Zebra 1I have to admit that I did not feel much like living, when I heard the diagnosis.

“Carcinoid cancer. Stage IV. Six months to a year, two if you’re lucky.”

Stunned, I started to prepare myself, and my family and friends, for the worst. We were to face the biggest demon any of us had ever known.

I thought I knew what to expect from death. I watched several people succumb to cancer and other health issues over several years before. It was a taste of what was yet to come. I felt that I had feasted at others’ tables with Lucifer himself.

Three years have passed.  Thankfully, I am not in the same place that I was during those first few weeks after my diagnosis. But, I have to admit, as I come up on the anniversaries, I get a bit freaked out. If nothing else, it is unsettling. I do not do it in doomsday fashion, as I refuse to give it more energy than is absolutely necessary. But I can find myself going down a rabbit hole and reliving those weeks leading up to hearing the actual diagnosis, and the events that took place afterward.

That serves no one, especially me.

When we are facing challenges that seem to consume us, it is unrealistic to think that we can just ignore them away by refusing to address them. Whether health concerns, issues at work, personal tests, divorce, insurmountable bills, or any other problems that seem to be dropped in front of us, we MUST be willing to look at it realistically.

Refusing to see things, as they are, is just as dangerous as jumping into the pit of negativity. It equates so often to sticking our heads in the sand of denial.

Hope…but prepare!

Every day of my life, I recognize the need to be prepared. I learned early on in life to “hope for the best; be prepared for the worst.” These skills have served me well, encountering many different scenarios throughout life.

Some people may certainly see this as giving focus to the bad.  I see it, however, as being realistic enough to understand what may on the other side and having a direction. Of course, one must be able to embrace balance.

Standing up to take on the demons we encounter is not easy, but it is necessary.  If we are not willing to do so, we allow our fears to lie to us, and down the rabbit hole of doom and gloom we go.

Facing the demons

I wish I could forget that carcinoid cancer ever existed in my life. I wish there was some potion for me to swallow to make it go away. I wish that a fairy godmother could wave her wand and life was magically transformed into something that what it is at any given moment. This goes for more than only a cancer diagnosis.

The biggest demons any of us face are not cancer or other illnesses. They are not a bad boss, an unrelenting ex-spouse, or rebellious teenager. They are not the circumstances that we encounter that are beyond our control.

The monster that we face each day is the person we see in the mirror. Our demons might very well be how we look at each situation. How we react to others and the challenges we face, given our beliefs, values, and habits, do not always serve us well.

I try each day to eliminate my knee-jerk reactions to things I face.  I am not always very effective.  In fact, sometimes I fail miserably.When I am in reaction mode, I give up my power to that (and others) which is making life inconvenient, annoying, or even painful.

Looking to the future

I am grateful for life itself, and for the last three years I have learned things that came from being diagnosed with cancer. It represents every single challenge in life that I have faced and thought I would never survive. I celebrate the people who have come in (and out) of my life.

I look forward to many more years to come, armed with more knowledge than I (or the general surgeon) had three years ago this afternoon.  And I live my life, in spite of the people and the issues that try to make it difficult for me, or when they decide they want me to give up.

I have said many times over the last several years, “We are all in the war together, and the war is LIFE.  It is our battles which are different, and each make us unique (though we can relate).”

I am not dying from cancer. I am LIVING WITH cancer.   

What are YOU living with?

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10711038_813112818731600_2929378673711612179_nFor more information on Carcinoid Cancer/Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs) visit:

When Feeling Unappreciated, What Do You Do?

hands-658065_640Between my work over the years, and being uber-extroverted, I meet and talk with a lot of people. Although I am certainly “quite the talker,” I also listen and observe more than people often think I do.

I have been told that I have a knack of “drawing people out of themselves,” though I think that is what happens when we learn to be more effective communicators. Of course, there are many times that I have just as many communication issues in those relationships closest to me, as others do.  After all, each of us has our history with which to deal.

I often hear in my interactions with students, clients, and others I meet who share along the way, that they feel under- or unappreciated.  I have felt that way myself. It seems to run the gamut of personal and work relationships.  Family, coworkers, friendships…the lament seems to be the same. It seems to be universal.

“I am tired of being taken for granted!”

It is easy to pull away when feeling the most vulnerable. It is one way that feels like protection from feeling more hurt.  The results can lead to lashing out in anger and words being thrown like daggers. It takes awhile to recover from those wounds, especially when weeks, months, or years pass without resolve.

Every once in awhile, when least expected, someone will have an impact in a way that seems unimaginable. An acquaintance will share genuine words of encouragement, love, and support, singing praises of appreciation or adoration.

These are the times that I am left (nearly) speechless. I find it difficult to process in those moments that I may be anything other than the (fill-in-the-blank) that others have declared I am. It challenges, not only the view I think others have of me but, the view I have of myself.

I wonder what might happen if, in our dealings with all people, we were to look at others through new lenses and see what we liked about them.

If we were to appreciate others, would we be more appreciated? What if we were all to share more often what we appreciated about others?

Not obligatory words in order to assuage a sense of guilt or feeling “beholden to.” Not to manipulate or pander to others, looking for acknowledgement of the gift of kind words finally bestowed upon them.  Not just once. But often simply letting others know what they mean to us and why?

Would this make a difference in the relationships we already have?  Would it make a difference in someone’s life? Would we bridge gaps? Would we build new friendships?

Today, I consciously make the decision to make a difference by letting someone know what I appreciate about them.

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What Do You Love About Me?

Coral:

Over five years ago, I wrote this piece. I think we all need to learn how to answer this question. Not only about others, but about ourselves.

Originally posted on BEYOND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE:

This week my sister-in-law posted a comment on her FaceBook feed: “I like you.” My first reaction was to reply with “What do you like about me?” I replaced it with “…I like the way your smile and energy lights up a room.”

Perhaps you rush out the door for work and give your spouse or child a quick peck on the cheek and say the obligatory “Love ya!” Or you have another call coming through on the cell phone, so you cut the call short with your mother with a quick, “Gotta-take-this-call-bye-I-love-ya!” Or you use the flippant “I’m sorry” to assuage your guilt.

Americans are famous for asking everyone, including strangers, “How are you?” Do we really want to know the honest answer to this question? Would we be comfortable with someone answering how they really are? Or would there be an uncomfortable silence as we figure out how…

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The Challenge of Clear Communication

I have misplaced my cell phone. The last time I saw it was on Thursday.

“Call it,” you might suggest.

That would be a good idea, if it were charged to capacity. After this long, the battery has died and calling to locate it would be fruitless.

Thankfully, I have called it to retrieve any voice messages that one might have left. At least I know how to do that.  There have been no messages left, if anyone has called me.

Of course, that does not help anyone if text messages are used as the primary or sole method of communication. And that is one of the biggest challenges of clear communication today, especially between the generations, as I see it.

In my world, where face-to-face or real-time phone conversations were valued, communication seemed clearer and plans were not left to chance. One would call a day or two in advance to solidify any plans made. That was considered common courtesy.

smartphone-703385_640In today’s world, when technology is touted as being nearly fool-proof, there are many times when messages are not relayed. This is especially true when one lives on the outskirts, where cell tower coverage can be spotty.  I think we all have had times when messages are never transmitted or received, or they come in all at once several days after they were sent.

We must all remember that trusting modern technology to make it easier to communicate is not always an accurate assumption. It may only be easier for those who rely on it as their sole resource.

As well, each generation values communication between people differently.  Societal standards and expectations change over time.

Any time there is a breakdown in communication between people, it is never one-sided. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings are the results of issues much deeper than a missed text message or last-minute phone call.

But today, we can all blame it on a dead cell phone.

© Coral Levang, 2015 All rights reserved.