This year’s observance of Memorial Day will be especially bittersweet. The typical large gatherings of friends and family aren’t allowed in most states because of current “social distancing” restrictions. Cities aren’t planning any parades or other commemorative activities.
But the solemn act of honoring those who have fallen in the line of duty will continue.
It was in 1868 that General John Logan proclaimed May 5th as Memorial Day, originally called “Decoration Day,” for “cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes.”
One hundred years later, in 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. As a result, from 1971 onwards, the Memorial Day holiday was officially observed on the last Monday in May, and became the unofficial start of the summer.
In 2000, President Clinton passed a resolution asking all Americans to observe a “National Moment of Remembrance” to “remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.” It’s supposed to happen at 3:00 pm on each Memorial Day.
While the nation as a whole may pause to honor the service and sacrifice of the fallen for one moment, on one day of the year, we must remember that the children of the fallen must live with the memory of their loss every single day.
In 2012, Joe Lewis, a retired Lt. Col with 25 years of service as an enlisted Army field artillery cannon crewman, a Marine Corps fighter pilot, and an Air Force Reconnaissance pilot founded Angels of America’s Fallen, because he saw a gap in support for the children of his fallen friends in all branches of the military and among first responders.
Lewis noticed there were no program providing opportunities for the children to be engaged in healthy activities throughout their childhood and into their young adulthood. So he created one.
Angels of America’s Fallen was designed to provide long term support during every year of childhood, from initial grief counseling to scholarships.
The organization encourages children to participate in healing developmental activities such as sports, music, and other arts as positive outlets for their grief. Coaches and instructors in their communities provide positive mentoring for children who are missing the guidance and support of their fallen hero.
Children are encouraged to try as many activities as needed until they find a passion that fits them at their current stage of development, and change their activity if their interests change as they grow.
Angels of America’s Fallen supports the children through a long-term commitment, funding their activities and staying engaged all the way to their eighteenth birthday, to help them develop their own personal identity, increase self-confidence, and write their own story of success rather than growing up in the shadow of a hero.
Growing up without the guidance and support of their fallen hero, these children are at higher risk of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, dropping out of school, and even suicide. Healthy activities with a coach or instructor who provides guidance and mentoring can help them avoid those risks.
We are proud to partner with Angels of America’s Fallen on a limited edition Nine Line design, with a portion of sales going to the organization.
This Memorial Day we hope Americans from coast to coast will honor the fallen, but never forget to serve their children.