What does Memorial Day mean to you?
For many, it means pool parties, amusement parks, and hanging with friends. Memorial Day has been branded as the time to throw some dogs on the grill and chug beer with pals while the American flag waves in the background. For others however, it’s a somber day of reflection, even sadness. It’s a day to stop and remember those who were lost fighting for this country.
Memorial Day is a national holiday, but more than that, it’s a commemoration. To that end, John F. Kennedy University will host a ceremony on May 30, 2017 to honor the prisoners of war lost in service to this country. Called the Missing Man’s table, the exhibit will be set up on campus and feature a number of objects that hold a certain significance to the armed forces.
Robin Whitley is coordinator for the VALOR Center at JFK University, and is helping to organize the event. “I want to honor that military service,” she says. “Everybody is going to have their own unique background and story. That’s what ties us together.”
Togetherness is one of the central themes to the VALOR Center, which helps connect veterans not only to services, but to each other. “These vets in different programs don’t know each other,” Robin laments. “I want to get everyone together. I’d like to bring camaraderie.”
In addition to honoring the fallen, we will also celebrate President John F. Kennedy’s birthday, his 100th. A decorated war hero himself, he lived a life that was a testament of the commitment to duty and sacrifice that are the cornerstones of Memorial Day.
Don’t worry, this event won’t be all doom and gloom. There will also be games, gift card giveaways, even a food truck; all held in the parking lot of our Pleasant Hill campus.
While it’s great to have fun and enjoy the holiday, it’s important to remember the meaning behind it. Robin wants people to remember that Memorial Day means more than just a three-day weekend. “It’s about really taking the time to remember, even with everything going on right now, what we’re doing this for,” she says. “And what they [the veterans] have done for us.”