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  • Writer's pictureRachel Kodanaz

Defining Memorial Day

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day, originating after the American Civil War to remember those who died as Confederate and Union soldiers. The occasion was expanded in the 20th century to include fallen heroes from all branches of the armed forces. As Americans, we observe the holiday annually the last Monday of May. For many of us we consider the weekend the official kick-off of summer, filled with sun and fun. For the families of our fallen heroes, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and honor for those who have served to protect our freedom. As civilians, many of us who have lost a loved one have expanded Memorial Day to be an occasion of paying tribute to family members who have passed outside of the armed forces; and consider the weekend to be one of reflection, honor and recollection of time spent with our loved one. Traditionally Memorial Day has become a day to visit the graves of those who have passed – for many a time to clean the cemetery of winter’s evidence and plant new flowers representing the renewal of spring. Others place objects representing passions, hobbies and family stories at the grave marker. Recently on a trip to Boston, I visited cemeteries containing graves of Civil War fallen military as well as modern day tombstones. As we walked around the cemetery I noticed miniature cars, religious objects and family heirlooms representing generations of family tradition, paying homage to generations before us and those who have suffered an untimely death. Whether we are military families or civilians, observing Memorial Day by reflecting on those who are no longer with us helps maintain a connection to those who we love. Each family has their own tradition, and as time goes by we can create new ones. As a supporter of the programs of TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors of Military), I attended a singer/songwriter fundraiser for the families of our fallen heroes this past weekend in Denver.   To feel the energy, to feel the love and to feel the crowd embrace the families of our fallen heroes with their generous donations and hours of support was truly inspiring and moving.   In fact, several singer/songwriters traveled from Nashville in support of the event, performing a song written specifically for TAPS:

“I’m Here for You” Written by Frank J Myers and Billy Montana

It must feel like your world’s shattered like a piece of glass And tomorrow doesn’t seem to care about the past And when letting go is something that’s too much to ask I’m here for you

When you’re mad and hurt and you just wanna yell and scream And it feels like God ain’t listening when you’re on your knees And when you’re drowning in a rising tide of misery I’m Here for You


I’m Here for you if you need to talk If you need a hand when you take a walk Or just silently sit on your deck And watch the sunset in the west I’m here for you any time of day When the memory’s just too hard to take And no one understand what you’ve been through I’m Here for You.

I’ll help you find your faith when you give up on hope I’ll be your shoulder when you find it hard to cope You’ll have a place to fall when you run out of rope I’m Here for You.


On this Memorial Day, I personally would like to thank all the fallen heroes and their families for my freedom and my safety. THANK YOU!!! Rachel Kodanaz is an author, speaker and consultant who provides support to workplaces when there has been a death of an employee or when an employee has experienced a personal loss. She is the author of Grief in the Workplace: A Comprehensive Guide for Being Prepared and Living with Loss, One Day at a Time.

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