The Meaning of Memorial Day

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As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.”

It often seems that the true meaning of Memorial Day gets lost amidst the excitement of a three-day weekend. Somewhere between families packing up their cars in pursuit of sunny beach days and businesses filling up our inboxes with emails warning us ‘Don’t miss out on this Memorial Day sale’, we forget to pause and reflect on what this day means for so many.

For the families and friends of our fallen heroes, the real meaning of Memorial Day is known all too well. For them, this day is filled with a mix of emotions as they grieve their loved ones and honor their memory. While these families feel their loss every day, Memorial Day marks a solemn, but special day where the rest of our country stops and remembers with them.

In honor of Memorial Day, we asked two of our military connections to share their unique perspective on what this day means. Below Omar Ortiz, spouse of Stephanie Ortiz- Banking Center Manager, and John Harris, Mortgage Loan Originator, remind us of the meaning and importance of Memorial Day.

Omar Ortiz, USAF – “Memorial Day for many marks the unofficial start of the summer season, for myself it is a day of reflection. It is a day to remember my military brothers and sisters who have laid down their lives in defense of this great nation and the ideals that it holds dear. I enlisted in the United States Air Force shortly after the events of 9/11 and have since been a part of combat operations throughout the Middle East in my career. As a member of a combat search and rescue (CSAR) unit I experienced firsthand what it means to be a part of something greater than oneself. In the rescue unit there is a motto, ‘These things we do so others may live’, it is why I continue to serve. On this day I think not only about my friends and family but all who are no longer with us and thank them in remembrance and prayers.”

John Harris, USAF – “Memorial Day to me is a time for everyone in our nation to honor and remember those both past and present. My understanding of what freedom is has changed since serving. There are unrecognized heroes from the very thought of America, to even at this very moment, who gave and are giving the ultimate sacrifice to protect and defend what we have in the United States. This price is heavy and going on two decades of services has only even begun to show me that.”

As we begin this Memorial Day, take time to stop and remember those who laid down their lives for the cause of freedom and collectively mourn with the family members left behind. To those of you remembering a loved one today, our thoughts and prayers are with you.