Op-Ed: This Memorial Day From Harlem To Hollywood – Don’t Just Bow Your Head

By Seth Jordan

This year, as during each Memorial Day weekend, a small minority of Americans may attend a parade — or post something on social media that will cause #NeverForget to be a trending topic.

They may actually pause for a moment, bow their heads and remember those who lost their lives in the defense of America. Yet even those few who will remember will quickly move on and join the rest of the nation at beaches, baseball games, backyard barbecues or holiday sales bashes to kick off their summers.

But “never forgetting”– and truly honoring those who paid the ultimate price on our behalf, as well as their families – is by definition more than just a few moments of bowing down our heads to remember. It is about continually looking up and around – being inspired by their selfless sacrifice to find ways to make an impact in our local communities and in our country. Active remembering.

In other words, doing something. Not just one day a year. But 365 days.

Doing something to honor the fallen can start with something as simple as going out to get and displaying the flag.

Proudly flying the flag on your property inspires love for our country and encourages living up to the values it symbolizes, and for which brave men and women died. Freedom. Honor. Courage. Commitment. But most of all, action in furtherance of a cause.

Doing something is about learning and raising awareness. Not only about those who laid down their lives for our liberties, but about the families they left behind. Families who struggle not only to carry on in their grief, but with the pain, loneliness and uncertainty as to whether anyone cares about their loss.

There are many ways to learn – and let others know – about the stories of fallen warriors and about the needs and interests of their families. Perhaps the best way to “do something” to keep the memory of our fallen warriors alive is to partner with Gold Star Families in their “legacy projects” in their communities – designed not only to ensure that their loved ones are not forgotten, but that their spirit of selfless giving is carried on in others.

The legacy projects encompass an amazingly diverse range of charitable giving from youth sports programs to summer camps; scholarships; animal welfare; law enforcement; education; Toys for Tots; aid to low-income; the making and distribution of portraits and quilts recognizing fallen service members; gifts to schools, orphanages, and medical facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan; and of course, efforts to meet the needs of wounded or disabled veterans and Gold Star families themselves.

Hundreds more such projects honoring thousands of heroes across the country are waiting for your contributions, and more than that, your personal involvement. Perhaps you even know a family who could be helped through their grief and isolation by launching a legacy project.

So this Memorial Day and beyond, remember not just to bow your head in gratitude for the sacrifice of a fallen warrior – look up and take action.

Look up to the flag proudly displayed on your property. Look up your local veterans organization to learn more about fallen heroes and their families. And look up and join in one of the thousands of legacy projects across America that make our heroes’ ultimate sacrifice even more meaningful by turning them into inspiration to follow their example of action to serve others.

Seth Jordan was an officer in the United States Marine Corps where he flew more than 250 combat missions as a UH-1Y Helicopter pilot. Jordan is Founder of the Dog Tag Brewing Foundation, a non profit organization helping to build legacies of our nation’s Fallen Warriors by partnering with Gold Star Families. The Foundation is supported by private donations and sales of Dog Tag Beer’s Legacy Lager. Nationwide, Gold Star Families are creating projects and events in their local communities so their loved ones are not only not forgotten, but so that they continue in the spirit of giving back.

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