Monday, May 29, 2017

Practicing Mindfulness on Memorial Day


Memorial Day is a day set aside each year to remember those who have lost their lives while serving their country in the armed forces. The meaning of the day can easily become lost in the long weekend filled with barbecues and beer. Or become confused with Veteran's Day, with which we greet our living armed forces folks with a "Happy Veteran's Day". Political disagreements can threaten to erode the meaning of Memorial Day altogether. As a result of all of these things, and with utmost respect to those willing to sacrifice so much for my protection and freedom, I choose to spend Memorial Day in mindful remembrance.


Memorial Day - Remembering Individuals


As a grateful Army mom, whose sons both returned from deployments, I have decided this year to intentionally know about someone (or multiple people) who have given the ultimate sacrifice.  I wanted to put real names on this holiday in order to honor them and their families by keeping their memories alive.

I chose to read World Changer: A Mother's Story: The Unbreakable Spirit of US Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn by Karen Vaughn.  

Overnight, I've read 75% of the book. Karen tells us of her son as a child, an adolescent, a young man, and finally a Navy SEAL. She tells of her perspective of parenthood as a Christian and of her faith in God. She describes her mother-son bond and how that bond is broken when the helicopter is shot down, killing all on board - including members of Navy SEAL VI - including her son. She writes with such honesty of the moment that my chest hurt as I sobbed. 

Despite the great loss she and her family have endured with the loss of her son, there is somehow peace in her writing. There is no asking for pity, only a quiet strength. I'd imagine she attributes that to God. She is a good witness to those of us who are not as convinced of such an active force in our lives. 

In this book, Karen Vaughn memorializes her son in a beautiful way. She describes his childhood antics, his school-aged years, and his move into being a husband/father a such a loving way - without being overly syrupy. I definitely feel as though I know who Aaron Vaughn was in life. 


Memorial Day - General Remembering


On this day there are many ways to remember those who have passed before us, in the service of their country.  A few ways to remember in general are:

  • attend or participate in a Memorial Day parade
  • fly a flag
  • watch movies (such as Act of Valor, Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, Pearl Harbor, and so many more)
  • watch documentaries 
  • visit a military cemetery 
  • visit a war memorial or museum
  • choose a time period and educate yourself about that war

Even if you don't agree with the politics of a particular President or the reasons a specific war has occurred, the United States of America is what it is in large part because it has been participating in battles for over 200 years. I guarantee there has been someone, in some conflict, who has supported or protected your interests. 

On this Memorial Day, I am focused in my thanks to those individuals who were willing and able to do what I am not. Today, I am mindful of those families who have lost a loved one in the defense of our country. 

Updated:  I have become aware that immediately following the launch of World Changer, Amazon's link to purchase hardcovers went down.  I am not aware of the reason why but want to make sure that I provide my readers with an alternate link for the purchase of World Changer in hardcover.  In the event the Amazon link goes down again, please refer to Karen Vaughn's official website to make that purchase - Official Karen Vaughn World Changer site .







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

8 comments:

  1. I am so happy that your sons returned safely from their deployments. My sons did, too, but certainly the experience changed them. Both lost buddies while they were there and they will never forget, and never let others forget, about those unselfish young men. Thanks for the reminder to reflect. As the numbers are totaled, we Americans have over a million lost lives to reflect on since 1776. God rest their souls and God bless the families that remain.

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  2. This is definitely a day to remember all those (and their families) who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we at home could live safe and free. As this Memorial Day weekend began, I was out shopping and met some veterans handing out poppies. I took one and gave a donation, then was directed over to meet a man from World War II who had been a B-17 pilot. It was such an honor to meet and say 'thank you for your service' to this now elderly man who had served our country (and us all) as a very young man at the same time my dad had served.

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  3. Dawn Thanks for a timely article. A day we should all set aside to remember those who pr0tect our freedom.

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  4. A beautifully written reminder to all of us that we have much to be thankful for and many who are owned a debt of gratitude. We wake up daily with tremendous blessings and freedom because so many offered the ultimate sacrifice. We hear those words, "ultimate sacrifice", yet we rarely consider what that means. I guess we really don't want to think about it. However, to be truly grateful for that sacrifice, we must consider the individuals who gave their lives for our country. Because we can't say it to them directly, we can at least take the time to offer our condolences and express gratitude to the families left behind. To the family of Aaron Vaughn and all families who have survived those who offered the ultimate sacrifice, I (we) extend our condolences and say thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

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  5. We must never forget those who made the sacrifice and those who are left behind. A beautifully written tribute Dawn, Well done!! Attended our local parade and ceremony at the cemetery today. Never forget!!!

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  6. Just the right thing to do on Memorial Day.

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  7. beautifully said, and very moving - my heart is with those who paid the ultimate price and to those serving and the families enduring <3

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  8. What wonderful ways to make a "holiday" special! TI's not just a day off for most of us, but a day that was earned on the backs of many young men and women. Thank you for the reminder that it is a day to reflect on the sacrifices that many have made.

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