Written by JourneyCare Veteran Volunteer John Budny
My awareness and respect for America’s annual tradition of Memorial Day – or “Decoration Day” as it was formerly known – has evolved. Thanks to participation in activities that honor military veterans for their contributions to America, including JourneyCare’s We Honor Veterans Program, I have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for this federal holiday.
Like many others, I was aware that Memorial Day was intended to honor men and women who died in service to America. While I attempted to observe Memorial Day consistent with its traditional intent, I no personal connection to anyone who died while serving. So, “remembrance of the fallen” was fleeting and yielded to other customary, familiar activities: after posting the American flag on the front porch, it was time to join friends and family in the inaugural summer cookout and watch the cavalcade of patriotic movies on TV. In short, I had become complacent in honoring the true spirit of Memorial Day.
As a hospice volunteer in Central Illinois and now with JourneyCare and its We Honor Veterans Program, I have a more direct opportunity to know and honor military veterans. This work enables me to expand my appreciation for the many contributions of men and women in uniform, the dangers they faced and the sacrifices they endured.
As part of my duties, I often take part in pinning ceremonies, which are led by veteran volunteers, attended by family and friends and honor the hospice patients for their service with words and music. My first JourneyCare veteran pinning ceremony honored a member of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) who became a flight instructor for young officer pilots during World War II. Another veteran fought in the frigid trenches and foxholes in the Korean War and a third was stationed at the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie, the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. One of the more recent honorees was an Army veteran who, as part of the initial American contingent entering Da Nang in South Vietnam, helped construct the first barracks for soldiers assigned to the area.
Thanks to We Honor Veterans, I am confident that my Memorial Day observance will be more meaningful this year as I recall the many military veterans whom I have met and had the privilege to honor and thank for their service.
In the words of President John F. Kennedy:
Please spend some time this Memorial Day remembering America’s veterans who have died in service to their country and reaching out and thanking the veterans who live among us.
To learn more about the true spirit of Memorial Day, see how members of the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI), which includes JourneyCare, are honoring those who gave their lives in service to our country this year.