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Happy Memorial Day Weekend – the truth of the matter

In the picture above you will see several men who gathered less than 24 hours ago to “celebrate” Memorial Day Weekend on Memorial Day Weekend – insomuch as a holiday like this can be celebrated. They were gathered to bury their friend and comrade-in-arms CSM Martin R. Barreras. If they look happy, it’s probably only because they have had the chance to celebrate the life of CSM Barreras together while mourning his death. That’s the truth about a “Happy Memorial Day Weekend.” The happy part is tangential at best.

Yesterday I posted an article wherein I questioned what the cost was of a Memorial Day weekend cookout. The fact is, it costs everything. If you scrolled down through the images, you saw  the image of burgers and dogs on the grill, with a flag superimposed. That’s what far too many people think of when they think of Memorial Day weekend, assuming they think of it at all. Below that image were hot dogs – .88 cents/pack. Bratwurst, $4.09 for a package. Potato chips, $2.98. Lite beer, $5.97. Hamburger patties, just $9.02, then the cookout image again.

Next, however, were the flag-bearers carrying CSM Barreras, a Marine turned Army Ranger who served for a total of nearly 30 years. He was a warrior who’d earned the respect of several no bullshit heroic, good men whom I admire; their regard is a testament to be reckoned with. He was husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, patriot who died from wounds suffered in Herat province, Afghanistan, in a TIC (Troops In Contact) while commanding the “Bobcats” of 2-5 Infantry, 3rdBrigade, 1st Armored Division Ft. Bliss.

How much was he worth to his family, his country, the Army, in comparison to those chips and the hot dogs?

Happy Memorial Day Weekend   the truth of the matter photo

Keep scrolling down yesterday. Each of those pictures is from someone who paid for this Memorial Day Weekend. The 11th image shows four military chaplains greeting my friend Josh Robinson and his friend Sgt. Adan Gonzales Jr. upon their arrival back in the United States. So, how about this – how about we do something more than utter platitudes and post up the picture of a flag on our Facebook page? How about we educate the thousands of well-meaning but uninformed people who unfailingly mistake Memorial Day for Veteran’s Day and thank veterans for their service instead of truly understanding the purpose of the holiday?

Here’s my challenge to those of you who get it – educate people, without being condescending, bitter or self-righteous. Urge them to do something tangible; ask them to go plant flags, put just one missing man plate at their picnic, or donate a few bucks where it will matter.

If just half the families in America who cook out this weekend donated the equivalent cost of a 6-pack of beer, a bag of chips and a package of hot dogs to the military charity of their choice, we’d fund those charities for years to come.

I’ll start with the United States Special Operations Care Coalition as a nod to CSM Barreras and my friends Nate, CSM Grippe and Pete Quintanilla, all of whom are in the group picture above. You can learn more about the Care Coalition here.

Want some more examples?

The Fisher House Foundation, here. The Silent Warrior Scholarship fund, here. The Warrior Shoot Event Group, here. Paws and Stripes, here. Black Dagger Military Hunt Club, here. Don’t like those choices? Leave a suggestion in the comments.

The net worth of CSM Martin Barreras, DC 3 Nathan Bruckenthal, MA2 Brazas, Sgt Francis Phillips, Sgt. Joshua Robinson, Sgt. Adan Gonzalez, Sgt. Christopher Thomas and A1C Leebernard Travis is incalculable but it’s damn sure more than some bratwursts, beer and a Facebook post.

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