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Memorial Day: Time to honor and remember

By Chad Layne, manager, event-driven architecture

As the newly appointed co-chair of the Veterans and Military Advocates (VMA) employee resource group (ERG) at Cardinal Health, I want to share a personal message about Memorial Day. I served in both the active and the reserve sides of the Ohio National Guard for 31 years, and have seen firsthand the cost of war and the price of freedom. I have lost friends and comrades in the line of duty, and carry their names and faces in my heart.

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor the sacrifices of the men and women who gave their lives for our country and our freedom. It is a day to reflect on the values and ideals that they fought for, and to express our gratitude and appreciation for their service. It is also a day to acknowledge the grief and loss of their families and friends, and to offer them our support and comfort. Memorial Day is a solemn and sacred occasion, but it is also a celebration of life and liberty. It is a day to cherish the memories of our fallen heroes, and to reaffirm our commitment to the principles they died for.

On this Memorial Day, I will be remembering Master Sergeants Shawn Hannon and Jeff Reick and Captain Nick Rozanski, friends who lost their lives during our last deployment to Afghanistan on April 4, 2012. They were brave, loyal and dedicated soldiers, husbands, fathers and sons who left behind loving families and friends. They are among the multitude of heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and I will never forget them.

But I also want to remind you that it’s okay to enjoy your long holiday weekend. Memorial Day is not only a time to mourn; it is also a time to celebrate. It’s a time to enjoy the freedom and the opportunities that our fallen service members have secured for us. It’s a time to spend with our loved ones, and to appreciate the blessings we have. It is a time to honor the past, and to look forward to the future. It is a time to be proud to be an American, and to be grateful for the privilege of living in this great nation.

Finally, I want to remind you that Memorial Day is not Veterans Day, which is observed on November 11th. That holiday is the day to thank and honor all those who have served in the military, past and present.

Memorial Day, on the other hand, is a day to remember and honor those who have died in the military, especially in combat. While it may seem like a nice gesture to thank a veteran for his or her service on Memorial Day, that is not the spirit of this holiday. Instead, you can show your respect and appreciation by acknowledging their loss and expressing your sympathy. You can also ask them if they have someone they would like to remember or honor on Memorial Day and listen to their stories if they are willing to share. You can also support them by offering your help, friendship or a simple hug. You can thank them again on Veterans Day, or any other day of the year, for their service and sacrifice.

With that, I hope you have a wonderful long weekend with your family and loved ones, and I encourage you to take a moment to remember those who are gone, those we have so much to thank them for.

About Memorial Day: This  federal holiday honors and mourns the military personnel who have died in the performance of their duty, especially those who died in combat or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. It is observed on the last Monday of May, which this year is May 27th. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, and it began in the aftermath of the Civil War as a way to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. Over time, the holiday expanded to include all American war dead, and in 1971, Congress declared it a national holiday.

Some of the traditional ways to observe the day include:

  • Visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of the military dead.
  • Attending or participating in parades, ceremonies, or memorial services organized by veterans' groups, civic organizations, or local communities.
  • Flying the American flag at half-staff from dawn until noon, and then raising it to full staff for the rest of the day.
  • Observing a national moment of remembrance at 3 p.m. local time, when Americans are asked to pause for a minute of silence or listen to the playing of Taps.
  • Wearing or displaying red poppies, which are a symbol of remembrance and hope inspired by the World War I poem, In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae.
  • Donating to or volunteering for veterans' charities or causes that support the families of the fallen.

Chad Layne leads a team of senior engineers, software developers and analysts who drive data integration solutions at Cardinal Health. He joined the company in 2017, after leaving active duty in the Ohio National Guard. He also serves as the volunteer co-leader of Cardinal Health’s employee resource group (ERG)  for veterans and military advocates, which helps build community within Cardinal Health and provides programs and training to help advance members’ careers. In 2015, he was awarded the Order of St. Maurice – Centurion from the National Infantry Association for his outstanding service to the Infantry community.

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