Memorial Day is a significant occasion that allows us to remember and honor the brave men, women and their families who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the military. At Netsmart, we are proud to have a dedicated Veterans Associate Resource Group (ARG) called NetVets, which consists of veterans and supporters of veterans within our organization. Our NetVets ARG has planned several initiatives to commemorate Memorial Day, including planting flags, hosting a blood drive and displaying a POW/MIA Missing tribute. In this blog, we will delve into the importance of these initiatives and explore their significance to our NetVets and the company as a whole.
One of the most recognizable traditions on Memorial Day is the act of planting flags on the graves of fallen servicemen and women. This ritual serves as a powerful symbol of remembrance, paying tribute to the individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Memorials are created outside of gravesites as well, with grounds suitable for display.
Additionally, the days leading up to the holiday, organizations and groups across the country plant flags as part of a national movement called Flags for Forgotten Soldiers. This movement builds awareness for veterans suffering from PTSD and recognizes those who have taken their own life. At Netsmart, we want to honor those service members both past and present. We have lined our Headquarters building with flags to honor their bravery, sacrifice and commitment to protecting our freedoms.
Donating blood is a two-fold act for our veteran community. It involves volunteering and the potential to save someone's life. Many veterans continue to serve their nation even after leaving the military, driven by a strong sense of duty and service. Giving back to the community is an important part of being a responsible citizen, and donating blood is just one way to make a meaningful impact. By volunteering and serving others, we can all work towards building a better future for ourselves and those around us.
NetVets recognizes the importance of giving back to the community and supporting our fellow veterans in need. Organizing a blood drive before Memorial Day is a special way for our veteran community to come together and make a difference. Blood donations are critical for saving lives and veterans understand the significance of helping others in times of need.
To our Netsmart Veteran Community, organizing a blood drive holds a personal significance. It is a reminder of the selflessness and camaraderie that permeates the military experience. Additionally, many veterans have witnessed firsthand the need for blood transfusions on the battlefield and understand the lifesaving impact such donations can have. Hosting and participating in a blood drive allows us to continue serving our country by supporting the wellbeing of our fellow citizens.
On Memorial Day weekend in 2004, I lost my best friend and college roommate, 1st Lieutenant Ken Ballard, in a firefight in Najaf, Iraq. To honor his memory, I donate blood regularly, and whenever I see the Missing Man Table, I think of him. Losing my friend was difficult, but I find comfort in knowing that he bravely served his country and made the ultimate sacrifice. As we observe Memorial Day, I reflect on his selflessness and the courage he exhibited in the face of danger. I believe it's important to remember and honor those who have given their lives in service to our country, like my friend Ken. Donating blood is a small way for me to give back and make a difference in someone else's life, just as he did during his service.
The Fallen Soldier tribute is a somber and poignant ceremony that recognizes the missing presence of our service members. A reserved table to honor our brave and selfless American military members who have perished on the battlefield, those who have not been returned to us after being taken prisoner on foreign soil or those who have gone missing and have not found their way back home.
Each item on the table has its own symbolism, representing the emotions and feelings reserved for those who did not come home. The table is round, showing everlasting concern for our missing men and women. The white cloth symbolizes the purity of their motives when answering the call to serve. The single red rose; displayed in a vase, represents the lives of the fallen and their loved ones. The red ribbon symbolizes our continued determination to account for our missing. The lighted candle reflects our hope for their return, alive or dead. A slice of lemon reminds us of the bitter fate of those who will not return. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by those who are missing, and their friends and family who are full of uncertainty. The wine glass inverted represents their inability to share a toast. The chair is empty, and the seat remains unclaimed at the table.
The Fallen Soldier tribute is particularly important to me as a member of NetVets. It reminds me of the profound impact that those who serve in the military can have on our lives. It reinforces the importance of never forgetting the sacrifices made by our fellow service members and motivates me to continue honoring their memory.
Whether you are planting flags or spending time with a friend or family member who has served, I hope you find time to pay tribute and remember the meaning behind the holiday. Through our Netsmart initiatives, we strive to honor the fallen and support the veteran community on this day and every day.
For those that serve or who have served, crises can be heightened by their experiences during military service. If you’re a veteran or service member and in crisis call or text 988 for 24/7 services or visit the veterans page for additional resources.