What The Boy Scouts Taught Me About Memorial Day

Flag PlantOne of the things I miss the most about being a Boy Scout leader is the Memorial Day Flag Plant that we participated in every year.  On Memorial Day, we would head up to Willamette National Cemetery in Portland and along with the boys, would clean off the grave markers, plant a flag and audibly say the names of those who had served our Country.

At first glance, the markers look much like those that can be found in any cemetery. Name, date of birth and the date that there life here on earth came to an end.  Then you look a little harder.  In this cemetery there are many markers that only show a life span of twenty or thirty years.

Many don’t come home.

I realize that most that serve this Country, serve for a period of time and then get discharged to civilian life.  Many, however do not.  Many don’t come home.  Many kiss their loved one’s goodbye and never make it back to say hello again.

You don’t see these stories at the cemetery but you know they exist.  It is quite a moving experience to hear the boys say the names and even for the young ones that might not fully understand what some of these great men and women went through, you can sense a certain reverence that you would not hear otherwise.

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.”  – Les Brown

Les makes a great point.  There are not only the stories of what did happen that we can only speculate upon, but also the stories that never took place.  I am a big fan of stories and I think everyone has a story that can add value to others and that story should be shared.

You have the freedom to tell your story – so tell it!

We all have a story for what has already taken place but I am more concerned about the story that has not happened yet – the story you can still write.  I know in the United States, there are men an women who have committed their lives to make sure that I maintain not only the freedom to tell my story, but the freedom to create it of my own free will.

If you want to truly honor the men and women that serve your Country, be willing to serve others by creating a story worth telling – live it and tell it.  Look back on the quote above.  What part of your story has not been written yet?  Isn’t it worth writing?

What if only 10% of the book you are reading had words in it?

It has been said that man will only reach ten percent of his potential during his lifetime. How would you feel if when digging into the last book you purchased, you found that only ten percent of the pages had words on them?

Picture your life as a book.  The past has already been written and no matter what are in those pages, everyday starts with a blank sheet of paper.  What will you write?

Today’s Challenge:  Start writing and think and dream big while you do it.  There is no greater way to give back to those that have gone before you than to make the most out of the life you have been blessed with.

Today’s Shout Out:  Thanks to all those serving their Countries, past and present.


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Barry Smith  5/27/14   photo by author   © Building What Matters 2014

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