With summer right around the corner, it’s easy for many of us to think of Memorial Day as a kickoff to the season of BBQs, baseball and fireworks. While spending time with friends and family over your favorite warm-weather activities is meaningful, is there more to Memorial Day than that?
Whether you’re planning for a three-day weekend or will be showing up at the office the morning of Memorial Day, this is the perfect time to reflect on what Memorial Day means and how it affects our workplaces.
You may have noticed we’re passionate about growing and honoring diversity in the workplace, not for its own sake or because it’s the right thing to do (though it is), but because it gives your team the opportunity to learn from differing perspectives and ultimately arrive at the best decisions, directly impacting your bottom line. We’ve talked about moms and honored Black History Month and International Women’s Day, but what about those who have died for our country?
Without the brave men and women who have courageously given their lives on the front lines for our country, we wouldn’t enjoy the numerous freedoms we have today. That includes the “pursuit of happiness” - which includes doing work that we’re passionate about, allows us to provide for our families, and solve real challenges facing our world. Pursuing happiness is about more than gratifying our own desires - it’s about using our gifts and talents to make our country and world better for everyone.
To those who have lost loved ones serving our country, we offer our deepest gratitude for their sacrifice. To those who have served, thank you for your willingness to fight for us all. And to the rest of us, what are you doing this Memorial Day - and every day - to make the most of your freedoms that have come with a price?
Here are a few ideas:
Join the National Moment of Remembrance at your workplace, or even at your picnic: Since the year 2000, millions of Americans have stopped what they’re doing at 3 p.m. local time to spend a moment of silence remembering those who have served and died in our armed forces. This can be a great opportunity to gather your team and honor them together. As a bonus exercise, follow the moment with a conversation about what freedom means and how it can motivate us toward better work.
Serve your community, and honor those who have lost their lives, by supporting or volunteering with a veterans support group in your city: according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 40,000 veterans spend the night on the streets each day, and 20 percent of our homeless population are veterans. Others struggle with PTSD and need assistance finding quality jobs after they leave the service. Volunteer with a local organization that impacts veterans and use it as an opportunity for your team to bond by giving back.
Consider providing financial support for families of fallen service members: we often think of how our grandfather’s brother died back in WWII, but our country has lost service members as recently as April 2018. These people leave behind real families who were counting on them to be there emotionally, physically, and financially. The USO and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) provide financial and emotional support to bereaved family members of troops who have died serving their country.
Don’t let this Memorial Day pass by without acknowledging the impact of those who lost their lives serving and those still with us, at your workplace.