Please Don't Wish Me A Happy Memorial Day [An Open Letter from A Veteran]


The following is an open letter from a US military veteran:

I lost one of my closest friends on April 14th 1994. And I escorted his casket home on Memorial Day.

So don’t wish me a happy Memorial Day.

There is nothing happy about the loss of the brave men and women of our armed forces who died in combat defending America. Memorial Day is not a celebration.  Memorial Day is a time for reflection, pause, remembrance and thanksgiving for patriots who gave up their own lives to protect the lives and freedom of us all – including the freedom of generations long gone and generations yet unborn. We owe the fallen a debt so enormous that it can never be repaid. 


Memorial Day is a time to honor the lives of those who would rather die than take a knee when our national anthem is played. But they will fight and die for the rights of those who kneel.  This holiday is a time to think of young lives cut short, of wives and husbands turned into widows and widowers, of children growing up without a father or mother, of parents burying their children. 

Memorial Day is a time to think of might have beens that never were. Of brave Americans who put their country before themselves. Without these heroes, America would not be America.  Unfortunately, for many Americans this solemn holiday might as well be called Summer Day – marking the unofficial start of the season of barbecues, days at the beach, time spent on baseball fields and golf courses, hiking and enjoying the great outdoors. All those things are great – we all appreciate them and they are some of the best things in life.


But Memorial Day is not Summer Day.

Nor was the holiday created as a way to promote sales of cars, furniture or clothes. 

I’ve seen war. I’ve seen more war then I would have like to have seen. A man goes to war and it lives with him the rest of his life if they are lucky enough to make it home.


This Memorial Day, I urge all Of you to remember and pray for all the fallen sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members who have so bravely served our country, as well as their families.  And I urge all of you to join me in the hope and prayer that somehow, someday people around the world will focus more on our similarities than our differences and that we will move closer to a time when war is just a memory – pray that it’s part of our past but not our future.  May God bless America.


Russ Stephens is a US military veteran and served in the Gulf War. He has spent years as a chaplain for AMVETS, and currently serves as chaplain with Barrow County Veterans Resource Center. Russ also attends Gratis Church and is involved in the men's ministry.