Memorial Days

Today is Memorial Day in the United States—a day set aside to remember those who have died in the service of our country. Originally called Decoration Day, the tradition of visiting the graves of fallen soldiers likely began before the Civil War was even over. In 1971, Congress standardized the holiday as “Memorial Day” and changed its observance to the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day this year made me think about memory and memorials in general. Humans struggle to remember things sometimes. We know this, so we create memorials to help us recall and sometimes relive the significant events in our lives. I have had several significant events occur in the last few weeks. My youngest son graduated (with honors) from High School. My daughter graduated (with two degrees and highest honors) from college. My second son got married (and we gained a daughter). These are all things we will want to remember and cherish for the rest of our lives.

There are also things that we do not want to forget. Every year, I mark the day my recovery began by reading and meditating. I want to remember what things were like before so I never forget why I live in recovery. The Oklahoma City National Memorial stands both to remember the people we lost and to remind us that violence is never the answer.

We memorialize things in many different ways. From the simple and personal, like keeping event tickets in a jar and making photo books, to the complex and public, like museums and monuments. Whatever we do, our goal is the same—to remember. We may want to remember a person who is no longer with us. We may want to remember an event like a wedding or a graduation. We may want to remember what happened and where we have come from so we hopefully do not repeat our mistakes.

As you go about your Monday, I challenge you to think about the people and events in your past that are responsible for you being where you are today. Think about the people you have lost. Think about things you have experienced that brought you joy and the things that brought you pain but led to growth.

In recovery, we have something we call “living amends.” We cannot make actual amends for every mistake we have made or every person we have harmed. The way we make amends for these (and everything we cannot recall) is to be intentional going forward to live each day as our best selves and to continue to take inventory and make amends immediately when necessary.

I challenge you going forward to notice the people who influence your life and take the time to let them know you appreciate them. Don’t wait for memorable moments to happen; be intentional about creating them. When you make mistakes (and you will make many more), be determined that you will learn from them and not forget them. Keep creating memorials, but let your life be the most significant memorial, because living our best lives together is The Kimray Way.