Across the United States this weekend, American flags will be raised, front porches will be draped with red, white and blue bunting, and children will crowd parade routes donning patriotic t-shirts.
Memorial Day is the day we set aside to honor our U.S. military heroes who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
While Memorial Day is a uniquely American holiday, the tradition is not.
Honoring those lost in battle dates back thousands of years to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who remembered their soldiers with decorated graves and festivals in their honor. Today, many countries around the world have a day set aside to remember their fallen military.
As we remember and honor our American heroes this Memorial Day, it’s hard not to be reminded of the lives lost in Ukraine, which is entering its fourth month of fighting since Russia’s invasion began.
Mourning, grief, and loss—as well as sacrifice and courage—are universal human emotions, regardless of one’s national allegiance or native tongue. Every day, at home and abroad, parents mourn children lost in war. Surviving spouses navigate the painful reality of waking up without their loved ones. And children feel the deep void of a parent missing a birthday or holiday because they gave their life for their country.
Last month I had the privilege of attending the TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) Honor Guard Gala, which paid tribute to the surviving family members, their fallen heroes, and the individuals who have demonstrated leadership in supporting military survivors and the children of America’s fallen heroes.
It’s been an honor to serve as the Chairman of the Board of TAPS for the last ten years. Since 1994, TAPS has provided comfort and hope to surviving families and loved ones through a peer support network and resources. Through its international arm, TAPS International, TAPS extends beyond our nation’s borders to bring the same hope and healing to military survivors worldwide, including in Ukraine.
This weekend, I encourage you to take a moment to honor the American heroes who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, and reflect on the universal human emotions that connect us with our global community.