How We Get Memorial Day All Wrong

by Amanda H., Author of Airman to Mom

memorial day

Memorial Day is a patriotic holiday and typically known as the official kick off to summer. Growing up, I had some sort of idea that Memorial Day was somehow connected to the military and being patriotic, but I never understood why. Maybe it is because I grew up in a typical American family with no military connection, but even during my first few years in the military, I didn’t understand its purpose.

I remember celebrating Memorial Day a few years after I joined the military, and the church we attended played music and asked Veterans to stand. It was Memorial Day, not Veterans Day and even though it seemed like the right thing to do it just felt wrong, and I still wasn’t sure why.

And then it happened. Late January 2013, a friend, whom we had met on a trip to Norway a few months before, was in a plane that went down. A pilot lost at sea. As I shared the news on social media a friend said, “I saw the news and knew that he was special to someone and I’m sad to hear you are one of those people.”

After a few days, they finally found him, but he was already gone. He died in a military training accident and left behind a wife and unborn daughter. It was a tragic story that affected so many people who knew him, his family, and the military community that supported him. That May, Memorial Day was a new experience.

When our friend died, I was pregnant with our first son, and we had yet to come up with a name for him. It was still a work in progress that really wasn’t going so well. One day while we were discussing a name for our child, my husband suggested the name of the pilot who had died. It was a way to honor his sacrifice and remember him. Once my husband suggested it, there was no better choice. And when people ask me if my son’s name has any significance I can share the memory of our friend, and his legacy lives on — his life isn’t forgotten.

For some, this holiday is no holiday; instead it’s a reminder of what is missing and gone.Click To Tweet

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in United States for remembering people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. It is a day when we honor and remember those who not only served, but gave their lives while serving the country. It is also a day to remember the sacrifice that not only the service member made, but the families too.

Memorial Day is not Veterans Day. And I appreciate when people thank me for my service any day, but I haven’t figured out the right way to explain that Memorial Day is not a day to remember or honor me.

So, with Memorial Day on the horizon let’s try to remember more than summer barbeques and picnics with American flags waving in the background. For some, this holiday is no holiday; instead it’s a reminder of what is missing and gone.

Remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Their lives are the reason for our freedom.

If you would like to learn more or support the legacy of my friend you can check out the Live like Luc site. They raise money for scholarships for family members who lost loved ones while serving the in the military.

Remember those who gave the #ultimatesacrifice. Their lives are the reason for our #freedom.Click To Tweet



Hi I’m Amanda! I am a former Air Force member who has transitioned to being a stay at home mom and Air Force wife. I left the military in 2013 after my son’s birth and in 2015 we completed our family with our second’s son arrival.

I blog at Airman2Mom ( with stories incorporating life experience from motherhood and daily life while occasionally throwing in my past letters home from my Afghanistan deployment. My goal is to inspire others on their life journey and hopeful find some encouragement along the way. I love making new friends and would be honored if you subscribed to my blog (, like my Facebook page (, follow me on Instagram ( or Twitter (

One Response

  1. Holly June 1, 2017