5 Memorial Day Rules

and a birthday update...

Hey y’all! This is my annual presentation of the Memorial Day Rules. These rules exist to help those with limited military experience to better understand the way I approach the day, and how many veterans I know approach Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is an emotional time for many of us. I have tried to give some context for Memorial Day the last couple of weeks, and I would urge you to read about Sam and Kevin if you haven't yet to better understand the context of this day for me. It is important to have context.

This post is public and is meant as a way of sharing information, so please don't hesitate to share the post with others, either by email or social media.

Finally, a huge thanks to all who have supported me on my journey. Stick around after the 5 Memorial Day Rules for a birthday update

Now. The rules.

Memorial Day Rule 1

Know what Memorial Day is.

Memorial Day is a holiday to honor those members of the military who lost their lives in service. it is not about honoring military service (that’s Veteran’s Day) or those who are currently serving (that’s Armed Forces Day). It is about honoring those among us who have given what Lincoln called the last full measure of devotion, those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Memorial Day is not about BBQs (even at a medically appropriate distance), or sales (even online), or the unofficial start of summer. It is about remembering.

Memorial Day Rule 2

Remember that Memorial Day is hard for many of us.

Think about Rule #1 and the meaning of this day. For many of us, today is about the people we lost. About Sam and Kevin. Men and women who were family to us. Who ARE our family. Lost and gone forever. Don’t wish me a “happy” Memorial Day. Don’t tell me to “have a great day.” It is a long, hard, painful day full of ghosts and sadness and guilt. And also joy and nostalgia and love. It is complicated for many of us. Respect that.

Memorial Day Rule 3

Don’t thank us for our service.

Seriously. Not on Memorial Day. That is not the day. There is a time and place for that (hint: Veteran’s Day). See #2. Would you want someone thanking you for being a parent on the anniversary of the death of your child? Exactly. It’s not about that. Not Monday.

Memorial Day Rule 4

Do something to directly support vets.

SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS ALONE DO NOT SUPPORT VETERANS. Don’t just pay lip service and virtue signal. Do something real to make a difference. Take your vaccinated ass out for coffee and listen to a vet’s stories. Support the work of veterans and veteran owned businesses financially. Give to organizations that are making a real difference for vets (ask in the comments or email / Facebook / Twitter me if you want ideas). Get to know vets as people. Don’t just say “happy memorial day! smiley emoji” on Facebook and think you’re good. Because you’re not. Do something.

Memorial Day Rule 5

Know that vets are people first.

The veteran community is not monolithic. We have different backgrounds and politics and ideas. Not every vet responds the same way to every situation. Acknowledge that our service helps describe us — it does not solely define us.

If you have met one veteran, then you've met one veteran. Human first, soldier second. Especially on Memorial Day, when that line can get blurred by loss and sadness. A little kindness goes a long way.

Be well all. And have a meaningful Memorial Day.


My birthday is in a couple of days (Thursday). While I am in awe of how well Facebook has helped me be aware of people's birthdays, and while I also love the charity fundraisers that sometimes accompany those days, I won't be doing that this year. Not that I don't want you to give to the charity of your choice. You totally should. I just want something different for my birthday.

I would like everyone who wants to wish me a happy birthday to do so by sharing with me something good about our connection. It may be something I have done for you, or something I made you feel. It might be a memory or an idea. Whatever works for you. Share it with me on Facebook, or email, or text, or in the comments here.

And. I want you to share something deeper than just “happy birthday.”

Part of this is purely selfish. I want people to say nice things to and about me. Part of it is because I don't think that we do a good enough job telling the people around us how they make us feel, and how important they are to us even if we don't see them every day. So consider this practice for normalizing that kind of sharing. It can only add more love to the world.

And I can't think of anything better this week.

Take care everyone. And keep pounding the rock.