In what’s become a bit of a tradition this time of year, I am repurposing my original Embrace Gratitude and Fortitude this Memorial Day blog, which first appeared in 2017. When I wrote this blog, I was shocked to see that I’d never written a Memorial Day blog until then—shocked because Memorial Day aligns with a couple of my favorite of life’s tenets: “gratitude” and “fortitude.”

  • Gratitude for those around us each and every day in both our personal and professional lives, from our spouses/partners, children, parents, and siblings, to co-workers, colleagues, and friends who work with us and stand by us, making the lives we enjoy possible.
  • Fortitude for how we and the people in our lives maintain forward momentum turning lemons into lemonade despite those inevitable setbacks and pushbacks life sends our way.

More than a Holiday

Sure, for many Memorial Day has become just another long weekend—a chance to enjoy some much deserved time off from the grind of the everyday work week and to mark the unofficial beginning of summer.

I get that. We all need to take time away to recharge and de-stress.

But did you know that . . .

  • Memorial Day used to be known as Decoration Day. It was officially first celebrate in May 1868 at Arlington National Cemetery, featuring a speech by then-General (and future president) James Garfield and 5,000 participants decorating the graves of the 20,000 Civil War soldiers buried there.
  • It wasn’t until 1966 that the official birthplace of Memorial Day was recognized as Waterloo, New York. While some observances predate the Waterloo event, it’s first celebration on May 5, 1866, was recognized because it was the first annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.
  • Every year on Memorial Day a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.
  • Only with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by Congress in 1968 was the observance of Memorial Day officially established as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971.

So, with all of that in mind, as you enjoy your cookout or outing with family and friends, take a moment to step back and pause to honor those fallen soldiers who have fought over the years to protect the freedoms we enjoy in this country. That’s what this holiday is really all about.

We are grateful for their sacrifices. We also recognize the fortitude that these gone, but never forgotten, heroes displayed on the battlefield. They hung to it when the going got tough, and because of them we are free to pursue lives and careers of our choosing.

Their deeds are truly an inspiration for all of us to do more with the opportunities and the freedoms they preserved.

Gratitude and Fortitude in Your Life

Aside from taking time to participate in your community’s or family’s Memorial Day observances, what can you do to make gratitude and fortitude a bigger part of your life—each and every day?

  • How can you express gratefulness to your family and friends for all they bring to your life? Through our deeds and our words we build relationships and show others we care.
  • How can you show co-workers and employees your gratitude for their contributions to your business, your career, and your bottom line? Through rewards and recognition, we show that everyone’s input matters.
  • How can you bolster your reserves of time, energy, and money so that when the going gets tough you—and those who both support and depend on you—have the fortitude to carry on? Through attention to our emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial health, we remain at our best and ready for what lies ahead.
  • How can you do more now to preserve opportunities for future generations? Through responsibility, accountability, and hard work now we ensure that our children and our children’s children enjoy the same opportunities and freedoms as we do.

Happy Memorial Day . . . make it a day for gratitude and fortitude!