Today is Memorial Day in the United States. My son is at the beach. Families are having picnics. And, towns are watching parades and waving flags.

If you are in the UK, you are also on a bank holiday. If you are not, you are probably at least grateful for a day of reduced email from U.S. colleagues. For all, bear with me for this post of a personal nature.

How many of us are truly thinking about the meaning of this holiday? How many of us have lost a loved one in a recent war? Even with all the media coverage, is the meaning real?

My father was a career Army officer, so my entire childhood was steeped in the signs of past, present and future military action. I don’t remember honoring my father for his service as I grew up. I loved him fiercely and fully. I missed him while he was away for eighteen months as a toddler and a year as a pre-teen. But, I didn’t think much about war.

Then, he served and was wounded in Vietnam. I remember waking in a dream filled with terror the exact night his helicopter was shot down. And, I remember the day we received the Western Union message and my mother picked me up at my volunteer job at Walter Reed Army Hospital with tears and fear. He came home and healed and returned to duty. Life got back to normal.

My father is a bigger man than his career. But, his 28 years in the service are a foundational part of who he is and how that shaped my life.

Today, I am remembering his service along with a neighbor boy who is home from Afghanistan. That’s personal and real; and, I feel good taking the time today.