Today Is My First Memorial Day

  Today is Memorial Day. I have celebrated this day 33 times since I have been alive. Or have I? Have my motives been in the wrong place? Did I think it was just an extra day off of school or work? Did I understand what this day was really all about?

The answer: NO!

For years I had it all wrong. I used this day as a day to relax and hang by the beach. To have fun with friends and celebrate the start of summer. And don’t get me wrong… None of that is bad. But it’s not what Memorial Day is really about. For years this was my approach to the day. I would wake up excited about what the day holds. Food, friends, and finally getting a tan. 

But today was different… Today I woke up with one thought on my mind. 

I woke up thinking about my buddy Sean Snyder and how much I missed him. Sean was a Navy Helicopter pilot. And simply the best at what he did. His Helicopter crashed into the Atlantic Ocean a little over a year due to technical issues. I thought about all his sarcastic comments that made me want to laugh and tackle him at the same time. I thought about his family that I still hold so close to my heart. They are the strongest family I know. 

I heard the cry of “I want Daddy” from Sean’s 7 year old daughter as his casket pasted through the hallway. I’ll never forget that cry as long as I live. Or the late night conversations with Sean’s boys as we cried together not understanding why the event happened. 

This flood of emotions washed over me as I laid in bed this morning. Today was NEVER meant to be about all the fun and food and sun that I made it out to be. Sure that’s a part of it. But today was all about remembering those who gave their lives so that I could be free to do those fun things. 

So I guess you could say… Today is my first Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day to all… And for those who have lost loved ones… We are forever grateful!

Brandon Hester