Memorial Day Weekend is just around the corner. For many, this means Graduations, Family Barbeques, the Indianapolis 500 and more fun events. For many more, this weekend reminds us of one of the great unifiers of our country – the contributions to service that nearly every family has made.
A few years ago, I was given an amazing gift from my grandfather. It was a compilation that he created of his father’s journal and his father’s Colonel’s published journal – both written during their service in World War I. I think it’s a really interesting juxtaposition of perspectives and experiences of an officer and a private – same war, different view.
The entries didn’t paint an epic story like one of Hemmingway’s. Instead, they spoke of the day to day during a difficult time. They wrote of the travel, the work, the stresses, the mundane, the letters from home, the odd laughs, the discomforts, the illness – everything. Their entries started from the day that they left Minnesota in 1917 to the day that they returned home again, thankfully in one piece.
This gave me a glimpse into the life of a man that I never got to know firsthand, but who had a profound influence on my family. My great-grandfather, Marvin Wickham, wasn’t a war hero who did monumental things in battle. But he’s a hero to us – as is my grandfather Tom Wickham, himself a WWII veteran and my other great-grandfather, William Curry, also a WWII veteran.
As an adult, I know that their stories to us kids glossed over the worst of their experiences. When I recall them now, each anecdote makes me appreciate how they found joys, successes, strength and more in the midst of what was probably the most terrifying experiences of their young lives.
The Bradleys & Krissoffs
The other day, a few of us in the office were talking about Memorial Day and families, and stories of two other families were shared. One was of the Bradleys.
James Bradley had given an impromptu talk to some Wisconsin junior high school students when they visited the Iwo Jima Memorial. Mr. Bradley, also from Wisconsin, shared the story that his father, John Bradley had shared with him about his experience at Iwo Jima. He talked about each of the men – kids really – depicted in the monument. By doing so, he gave those kids insight into the personal sacrifice so many made for our country.
The second story was about the Krissoffs. From the outside, they seem like a classic American family from Trukee, CA. However, the sacrifices that this family has made make them anything but common. After 9/11, the two Krissoff boys, Nate & Austin, joined the Marines. Unfortunately, Nate was lost in Afghanistan. This loss inspired their father, Dr. Bill Krissoff, an orthopedic surgeon, to pursue service as a battalion surgeon with the Marines. Even though, he was initially not given an age waiver (he was 60), he persevered (including a request to President Bush) and was able to serve.
The Impact of (& to) Those Who Serve
What I remember most about my history classes in school is the statistical highlights what we needed to memorize – dates, locations, battles, results, etc. When you look at history from that level, it is easy to disconnect the numbers from the people who served, sacrificed and live on with the impact of those experiences.
While we can’t directly thank those who came long before us and shaped this country that we are lucky to call home. There are so many ways that we can honor those who have served.
I think honest service to our families, our companies and our communities is a great way to thank our founding fathers and those who built this country. Since not all of us can/should serve in our armed forces (I’m far too clumsy to be armed), there are many, many ways that we can support those who do serve:
Here are just a few organizations that I encourage you to check out:
22 Strong: On June 8th, I’ll be participating in the 22 Strong event hosted by Wright Construction. We’ll be walking 22 miles across St. Louis. The purpose of this walk is to show our support and solidarity with the US Service Members who have served, who currently serve, and for those who have sacrificed everything in service to their country. 22 miles was chosen to represent the 22 veterans who commit suicide each and every day. Mission 22, Six String Heroes, and Focus Marines Foundation– the beneficiaries of this walk- are determined to eliminate that awful statistic.
Gary Sinise Foundation: The Gary Sinise Foundation grew out of a mission of actor, Gary Sinise, to support those who have given so much to us – and are forever impacted by those experiences. The Foundation supports a variety of programs for all of those who sacrifice on our behalf – active duty, veterans, first responders and their loved ones. I love the message of support across the Foundation programs – and is frequently followed by give a little more.
Fisher House Foundation: The Fisher House Foundation builds homes at military and VA medical centers around the world. They provide housing for military and veteran families, free of charge, so that they can be nearby while a loved one is in the hospital. Additionally, they assist with travel, manage a grant program for other military charities and a scholarship program for military children, spouses and children of fallen & disabled veterans.
Hire Heros: Returning and transitioning to civilian life is challenging not only for military members and veterans – but also for their spouses. Hire Heros helps with transition assistance to prepare them for the job search process through career coaching, resume assistance, employment workshops, job boards, mock interviews and more. My personal experience hiring and working with veterans has taught me that these are some of the best candidates that you can bring on board to any organization.
The Impact to HL Group
While we have (and have had) veterans on our staff, none of us talking about Memorial Day weekend that day had ever directly served. But there are ways that we have been able to honor the veterans of our families and beyond in how we work at and contribute to HL Group.
We are very proud to be a solution supplier to the military and the government today and for more than twenty years. We apply principals of service to our customers, integrity of our work and commitment to improve every day. By doing so, we hope to make our corner of this great country a little better.
Our sincere thanks to those who have served – or are serving. We wish you, and everyone, a happy and safe Memorial Day Weekend.
Anne Hale is the Director of Client Services at HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile inventory management, RFID and supply chain solutions. She manages our client engagements, helps with sales and marketing and is the proud granddaughter and great-granddaughter of some fine veterans.