Last month I was reminded of the vital role resilience plays in our lives and just how important a slight variation in perspective or attitude can be. DCoE was asked to offer some resources on different ways families can cope with deployments that would be used as a part of a larger media article. This type of media query was not new by any means, but the more I learned about the story the more it struck a chord with me.
The article was about a unique display of resilience and one way a Navy spouse was helping her and her family cope with her husband’s 13-month deployment. She had recognized that of all the normal daily routines that would continue over the next year without her husband, dinnertime would be the most difficult. The empty chair at the dinner table would be a constant reminder of his absence. Instead of “facing the empty chair at dinnertime” she decided to invite someone new to dinner once a week to “sit in his place.”
As Memorial Day approaches, I find myself thinking of the numerous empty chairs in our country, particularly those that will never be filled again by their rightful occupant. I am reminded of the countless “empty chairs” across the country once filled by our fallen service members that will never again be sitting in their chair at the dinner table and the families, friends and loved ones who face those empty chairs. The grief and loss of their families, friends and loved ones will fade with time, but their memories will continue and the “empty chair” for that family will always be there.
I tend to get a little cranky when I see people thinking of Memorial Day only as the start of summer, an occasion for a big car sale, or the latest department store blowout. It is a solemn occasion to come together as a country and pause to pay attention to the numerous “empty chairs” that have affected our nation’s families over time. We need to call to mind the memory and honor the sacrifices of those who lost their lives protecting our nation and we need to stand with and support those they’ve left behind.
So, with this blog post I ask that you do something. As you read this, pause and set a reminder for 3 p.m. May 28. At your barbecue, at the mall or while you are pondering the new car, stop and take part in the National Moment of Remembrance. Pause for a moment of silence, wherever you are or whatever you might be doing to remember the men and women who sat in those empty chairs.
A moment of genuine commemoration this Memorial Day will help ensure that the memories of our fallen will be shared and carried forward by future generations. Let’s carry out the intent of the day to, “remember and honor those who have died in service to our nation.”