How to Give Thanks
I was out of town for Memorial weekend and was unable to attend any of the local observances. Thankfully, CV Weekly reporters were out en masse to cover these solemn events and their reports can be found on our front cover.
However, I did get a glimpse of what Memorial Day means to those who serve and the families who send their loved ones off to battle, sometimes never to see them again.
I had the pleasure of being a guest at the weekly lunch of the Glendale Kiwanis on Friday. The occasion was so I could receive a generous donation from the club for Prom Plus (the post prom party is after prom tomorrow night). The Kiwanis Club of Glendale is a very active, boisterous and sometimes loud club. Members have opinions on just about everything that takes place during the meeting and have no qualms about voicing their opinion. It could be off-putting except that the club is as good-natured as it is lively.
The guest speaker on Friday was Lt. Col. Raffi Najarian. He relayed some of his experiences in the service that included how is mother, then his wife, were determined to follow him to Iraq and Afghanistan when he was deployed (they were unsuccessful). He went on to convey in very personal terms what was given by those who were remembered on Monday.
We have heard the phrase that those killed in service to their country “gave their lives,” “gave everything.” But what Lt. Col. reminded the audience on Friday was what “gave everything” meant.
When someone dies in service, they give not only their lives, but their dreams, their hopes – everything that we here in America are allowed to pursue came about because someone paid with their life.
I had never quite heard it phrased that way. It was sobering.
I stepped back and took a look at what I’ve gained from someone else’s sacrifice: a family to enjoy. Friends to laugh with. Dreams to chase. All available for me because someone – many someones – fought to keep these American dreams alive and viable.
Taking that train of thought a little further, I realized that my responsibility in this bargain is to live to the fullest.
What that means is to not waste one extra minute being angry at the guy that just cut you off – he doesn’t know nor probably would he care that you’re mad.
When your spouse comes home or when you arrive home, greet with a smile. Why is it that we’re so comfortable making the ones we love the most feel the least valued? These are the people we’ve taken to cherish for the rest of our lives. And believe me – there’s plenty of time to complain about your day. Make the concerted effort to be a welcoming force.
For heaven’s sake, laugh. I want to be remembered as someone who relished laughing until tears rolled down my face.
Don’t let the bad guys get you down – because they can. What/who are the bad guys? The ones that attempt to steal your good humor, the bills that demand to be paid when you have no money, the car that won’t start making you late to work. The rain falls on both the just and the unjust – it just happens. Expect it and realize that complaining to anyone within earshot brings no reward.
I used to be a regular listener to Dr. Laura Schlesinger and she made a point – repeatedly – that we can only be responsible for our own behavior. If we want to generate change in someone else, we need to first look within and change our own ways. By doing that we will have a higher probability in changing the behavior of someone else.
Finally, to honor the gift of life that was given to us, we need to try and be the light that, when you walk into a room, people are glad you’re there.
Thank you to all the volunteers who worked together this past weekend organizing those special Memorial Day ceremonies and to those for whom those ceremonies were held.