This is a special Memorial Day post from my brother-in-law Ryan Lyons. Ryan is currently in the ROTC program at the University of Cincinnati. When Ryan graduates in the Spring of 2018 he will commission as a Second Lieutenant.
When reflecting on Memorial Day I am always drawn to the memories of my time in the Boy Scouts. Each year our troop would gather in the parking lot outside the municipal center in our uniforms carrying banners, a troop flag, and several American flags. Taking our spot behind the local American legion post for the very large Memorial Day parade for our town.
Each of us would wave and take turns proudly carrying a flag or banner as we walked down main street, ending our parade in the grave yard. There the legion would hold a ceremony and reception, honoring those of our town who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln "gave their lives that this nation might live".
Ceremonies and parades like this have occurred thousands of places all over our nation for close to 150 years. The tradition that we know as Memorial Day gained traction after the Civil War in 1868, when General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union soldiers who died with flowers. Thus it was first called "decoration day".
By the 20th century, various Union and Confederate memorial traditions, celebrated on different days, merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in military service.
This day is used specifically to honor those Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen who died in service to their nation. Often and understandably so, this day is confused with Veterans Day, the day set aside for thanking all veterans for their service in the Armed Forces. The distinction is very important, especially to those who serve and have served.
This day, for me, has always been one that I honored properly thinking of the families that had one less father, mother, son, daughter, uncle, aunt, etc. However, it was not until right before I was contracted with the Army Reserve that I learned of the personal significance this day for my own family.
I was given a picture by my grandmother of her brother Charles Keeley (at the bottom of this article) who was killed in The Second Battle of Naktong Bulge, Korea, 8 SEP 1950. He was 19 years old when he died. Barely older than me when I joined the Army. His service picture showed an all too familiar face with round glasses, broad shoulders, and a slight smile.
Beyond a few stories that my grandmother told me, I know very little about him or his life before the army. But I do know that she loved him dearly and his death impacted her life in a large way.
His sacrifice gave me a whole new meaning for my own service. I feel most proud that I am related to such a man that would give so much of himself for others and for the cause of freedom.
So I invite you this Memorial Day to take the time to honor the fallen and remember their sacrifice. Go to the parades, go to the ceremonies. Take the time for reflection and prayer not just for the fallen but for their families as well.
After your remembrance don't forget to have some fun with family and friends around the grill. I have no doubt the men and women who gave their lives wouldn't want their memory to be associated only with sadness and mourning.
Let's celebrate the liberties we enjoy as American citizens because of those who have their lives to preserve our nation and our way of life.
"That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." - Abraham Lincoln
Ryan Lyons-Guest Contributor
When you look back on your life what do you want to see? I believe you will reminisce most about the experiences you had and the people you shared those experiences with. The list I have compiled is diverse but I think there is one consistency. They do not involve material possessions. When your first 30 years are in the rear view mirror you will treasure the things you did with the people you loved not the nice car you drove around alone. With that said, here is my list of 30 things to do before you turn 30. Take some, add some of your own. I have a decent start but still a long way to go. So get started experiencing life and not letting life happen to you.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
Are you a guy who stares at your closet each morning hoping the right clothes will jump off the hanger and attach themselves miraculously to your body? Or maybe you are the guy who if your wife didn’t pick out your clothes you would look like a cross between Ronald McDonald and Dennis Rodman, well fear no more! There are 5 simple rules that if you follow you can confidently take on the day.
J. Matthew King, Co-Founder
Reading is widely recognized as a great way to increase knowledge, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills among many additional benefits. One of my goals in 2016 was to increase my reading and I was able to read 31 books. While that may be small potatoes to some of you, it was the most I had ever read in one years time. After reflecting on how I was able to increase the number of books I read last year I distilled my methods down to the below tips. Hopefully you will find them as beneficial as I did.
The goal is to start a reading habit that will continue for the rest of your life. These ideas worked for me last year and I hope they will be of use to you as well. Please let me know in the comments what tips you have to read more books this year and if you have any book recommendations.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
What do the Sacramento Kings, Arizona Cardinals, and Chicago Cubs (until a few days ago) have in common? They are the pro sports teams that have gone the longest without a championship.
In our society unconditional loyalty is held up as a quality we should all strive after. Anyone who abandons their team is viewed as a quitter, or not a true fan. I think the time has come to rethink the role of loyalty in our lives through the prism of sports.
Blind (unconditional) loyalty leads to the acceptance of bad behavior. Why should sports teams spend the money and resources to improve if they are supported by fans (short for fanatic) no matter how terrible the team is? There is no incentive for the owner, coach, or president to spend more money if a bad product still produces a good profit. We don’t follow this same procedure in other areas of our lives. Think about going to a restaurant for several years and it serves good food, has good service, and charges a fair price. All of a sudden the restaurant food deteriorates and you go back several times but it never gets better. How long would it take you to stop going to the restaurant? I would say pretty quickly! However, with our fan support we do not see it the same way. We continue to support bad teams year after year.
So what is the solution? The solution is conditional loyalty which means, “if you do X, I will do Y”. It is an understood and most likely unspoken agreement between two parties. In sports it would be something like this, “If the sports team gives visible effort and tries on a yearly basis to make improvement, I as a fan will support them monetarily”(via tickers, merchandise, etc). People will say, “but i’ve been a fan of the Kings for 25 years!” Just because you have done something for a long time doesn’t mean it is a good decision.
We need not only to look at our sports allegiances through this prism but also our relationships. We have to learn to hold others accountable and expect excellence from all of our relationships. Open communication and expectations strengthen both individuals in a relationship. If someone thinks they might lose someone/something they will fight to keep it. Blind loyalty is ignorant, sad, and enabling behavior that is the easy road. Demanding excellence in all areas of your life takes a skills set of being able to confront and being willing to walk away from bad relationships. It’s not the easy road.
Re-evaluate your sports and life allegiances, don’t be afraid of being called a quitter or fair weather fan. Find teams and relationships where you both work hard and keep each other on your toes. Demand Excellence!
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
As Tom Brady gets ready to play his first game of the season due to a suspension for not following the NFL rules I wanted to examine this topic that I have begun to think about more and more the older I get. What are professional athletes responsibility in our culture? I ask this question not as a parent but someone who grew up idolizing athletes and then feeling crushed when I would learn of their off field mistakes and wander how my role model could let me down. After all, weren't they supposed to be my hero?
Traditionally our culture has looked to athletes as people to emulate due to their status in the public eye but this idea was questioned in a 1993 commercial by NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley who said, “I’m not paid to be a role model. I’m paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court.” Is he right?
Athletes are given the spotlight in our culture unlike anyone with the exception of actors and politicians. Due to their platform some claim athletes should not only perform their jobs but also live lives that as a society we can point to them as examples for our children or youth to emulate. Is this the correct attitude? In response to Charles Barkley’s commercial fellow NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone said, We don't choose to be role models, we are chosen. Our only choice is whether to be a good role model or a bad one”. Maybe this is the better prism to look at this issue from. Undoubtedly people in positions of power or fame will be looked up to regardless of whether or not they want the responsibility. They will be either be a good example or a bad one and either can be learned from but what should be expected of them?
What is a role mode? Someone who’s behavior, example, or success deserves to be emulated. So why do we hold athletes up on a pedestal and act shocked when they do not meet our lofty expectations? Just because someone performs their job in the public eye does not make then deserving of emulation. Some fairly recent examples you may be familiar with are arguably some of the most popular athletes of all time. Michael Jordan had gambling and infidelity issues, Tiger Woods had a multitude of infidelity issues, and even my favorite athlete of all time, Peyton Manning, had sexual misconduct and performance enhancing drug allegations. When these athletes step out of line we act shocked and outraged. What did you expect? Just because we see them on commercials and they look like they are nice people who treat their families well are we truly that shallow to believe the image they project is the real them? Or do we just want to believe that because we need to believe they are good, nice and decent people?
People who say athletes should be role models will say that because of their platform and because of the amount of money they make they should be held to a high standard. I would say they should not be considered role models because it is creating an idol out of someone who does not deserve that level of awe. They are entertainers it is not in their job description to be good people. Lastly parents should be role models. Don’t abdicate responsibility and have your kids look to an athlete as their example. Don't point to them as a model of success just because they can throw a football or make a lot of money. Don't envy their lifestyle and make your child think that is true success. You try to be the example for your children so they can look up to you and see how a real man acts not a person they will never meet other than the image they want to project.
Don’t be surprised when athletes turn out to be bad people. Charles Barkley said it right at the end of his commercial, "Parents should be role models."As a parent (or future parent)strive to be a role model for your kids and teach them not to idolize other men. Enjoy athletes for their talent, not their character. If they turn out to be a role model it will only be a bonus.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder
The other day I was in class. I sat down in my usual chair, after several minutes a guy came in who I find somewhat annoying. I noticed that he wanted to talk, so what did I do? I immediately reached into my pocket, pulled out my phone, stared intently at it and with my head down, avoided his gaze. What was I doing? Signaling that I was closed for business when it came to conversation.
We have signals and cues that tell people our intentions. Inherently I knew simply by pulling my phone out my classmate would get the idea that I was busy, or just couldn’t be bothered. I was shutting the door to any interaction, and it worked! Sometimes we do this on accident with our friends as well.
How many times have you been to dinner with friends and this is the scenario?
One by one as people get comfortable they start pulling out there phones, and bam, nothing is said, no conversation, no communication.
I see the point of getting together with friends to actually communicate, laugh, participate as a group, enjoy an activity or dinner. So many times I have gone out with friends and been frustrated, even infuriated when I get there and all everyone does is stare at their phones all night. Especially when it happens time after time. Your friends want to spend time with you, and your phone habits, are breaking your friendships. Here is how:
1. When you are constantly on your phone you signal to everyone else they are less important. No no one will fault you if you receive a call from a potential employer, some emergency or whatever. But when your friends see you texting someone else, who you could text later, watching videos, scrolling facebook, twitter, etc. you are telling them that activity is more important than they are. You are inadvertently degrading them. Your friends time is important, they could be doing anything else, but they came to be with you, return the favor. When I have been on the receiving end of this I have often wondered “why did you even come out tonight?” Some people I have been around have even read books while they are out with friends?! If you wanted to read a book stay home! No one can fault someone for wanting some alone time but if you are going to be out with people, pay attention to them.
Being on your phone at all times also leaves people out and it divides the group. This takes the group from being a unit to individuals with little connection. Some people do not have the joy of living around their friends so when they get to see them it is a big deal. Imagine how they would feel if you are on your phone even when you barely get to see them. Do you think they feel respected, or appreciated?
2. You miss out on things. For instance have you ever wanted one of your friends to watch one of your favorite movies with you? They haven’t seen it, and you really want them to. So you rent it, you put it on, you really want them to like it. Maybe its an intense movie, one you really have to pay attention to. You realize while you have been riveted to the movie, halfway through you look over and your friend is texting, or worse, watching another video!!! You can’t believe it, you have planned this all week. You keep looking over periodically and notice they only barely look at the movie every once in a while. After its over, they say they didn’t get it. Well how could they, they didn’t watch it. You tread all over your friends time and efforts when you do this.
Ultimately you are putting yourself, your time, and something as trivial as Facebook or whatever as more valuable than your friend when you do this. You are putting a lower value on your friends than your phone. You may actually end up losing friends with this kind of behavior. I for one ended up deciding not to hang out with some people because I knew they would just be on their phone all the time. This can cost you valuable friends and connections. Ultimately when you put your time, your phone, and whatever activities you do on it on a higher rung than your friends you are exhibiting a rude, immature, and rather pathetic trait. But like all bad habits you can train yourself out of it. Perhaps before you get out of the car to walk to the restaurant just leave your phone in the car, that way you wont have access to it. Maybe just power it off. Be considerate. Your communication skills should also increase with actual face to face conversation, and more importantly your relationships will be strengthened rather than weakened.
Jonathan King, Co-founder