When Memorial Day approaches, friends and family often reach out to me to wish me a “HAPPY HOLIDAY.” They do this because I am a veteran. However, it always strikes me as unusual since Memorial Day is not to honor veterans like me, but those who have fallen in the service of our country.
During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, while preparing to liberate Kuwait as a U.S. Marine in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, I was especially aware of my mortality. Having artillery land in one’s perimeter will do that to a person. However, I was never as concerned for myself as I was for my family back home. They would be the ones who suffered more should I be killed. That is why on Memorial Day I think that it is as appropriate to remember the fallen but also to recognize the sacrifices of the families and friends who are left behind when our country calls.
Oftentimes music is used as part of the mourning process, to help us collectively work through our anguish after a loss. After national calamities such as 9/11 or local ones such as the crash of Flight 3407, music has a very important role. I am more aware of this in my current role as program director of Classical 94.5 WNED and am proud that we are able to help people in this way.