Memorial Day: Grief vs Remembrance vs Honoring

Memorial Day was originally called ‘Decoration Day’ and was established as a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service. Memorial Day was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. It is a date of remembrance, honor and reconciliation. For many who have recently lost loved ones who served and gave their all for what they believed in, it can be a day of grieving over the fresh pangs of loss of their father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, friend, comrade or loved one.

Memorial Day is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays). For many this is most of what this holiday represents to them: a 3-day break from work or school to plan a vacation around.

Red Poppies began to be used as a symbol to wear in of honor those who had died in war or in service after Moina Michael wrote in 1919 the verse:

“We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.”

To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps”, a musical piece sounded by the U.S. military nightly to indicate that it is “lights out“.

Whether or not you ‘believe’ in war, military action, or the idea of choosing to serve your country, it is appropriate to give solemn remembrance and honor to the brave men and women who have chosen to preserve and protect us, our families and our nation. It is not a day for division; it is a day for unity.

Grief: Be aware that there will be some who are grieving their loved one on this day. Seven years ago Memorial Day fell exactly a week after my brother, TSgt John Bradford Thompson, had died after serving 30+ years in the U.S. Air Force. The day was filled with many tears as well as many stories and thoughts of my brother’s antics in childhood and when on leave from the military as well as his tales of some of his experiences while serving.

Remembrance vs. Honor: To remember someone is to recall them, their life, their stories and what they loved and believed in. To honor someone is to do more than remember; it is to pay respect to the greatest highest good that was reflected by that person in their life. When we honor someone, we acknowledge how they most brightly shone their inner Light in the world during their life. By honoring that Light within them, we continue to keep that Light flowing in the world today. It keeps them alive in our hearts and in the world. It brings inspiration to all of us to reach for our own highest potential in shining our own Light of our True Essence into the the world.

This post is dedicated to my brother, Brad, who will live on in my heart, will be remembered in the tales I tell to my children (and there are many… grin), and whom I honor on this Memorial Day. He stood up for what he truly believed in and gave his all to his family and his friends… and his country. When the fireflies begin to dance in the air this summer, I will recall chasing them with him in childhood and know that he is dancing in the light of the stars now as well as in the Light of his True Essence.

Let’s all take a moment this Memorial Day to be in meditation and get into our hearts to send out Love to all who are grieving, remembering or honoring their loved ones. Let us also surround those loved ones who are no longer walking the earth with compassion, peace, Love and Light as well. If you are stuck in Grief for an extended period of time and feel powerless to shift, you may want to check out our book Bye-Bye Self-Sabotage.

Bright Blessings to all on this Memorial Day!

Tracy Thompson Latz, M.D. (with Marion Ross, Ph.D.) – The Shift Doctors

*****The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz, M.D. & Marion Ross, Ph.D.) are available for keynote talks, classes, events or for seminars (1/2 day or up to 2 day) on personal transformation, team-building, motivation, anger management, intuitive development, or collaboration for private groups, conferences, corporations or corporate events. Contact them at or find out more about them at

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One comment

  1. Dr. Tracy, I hope you don’t mind that I share this with Jessica and her family today. Her dad, a Vietnam vet with PTSD took his life on Monday night. Jessica being the incredible best friend/sister that she is, HID it from me FOR A FULL DAY because she didn’t want to retrigger me with so many intertwining issues that are involved with PTSD, my dad’s passing, my best friend killing herself in 1994 (one of those April days) and everything else – she being SO AMAZING TRIED TO SHIELD ME FROM IT and thus not being able to open up and talk to me about it until she knew it would come out on Facebook and I’d see it anyway and she wanted to tell me herself after being discharged only 5 days earlier. I truly believe that when ready, these words, which you gave me and Rhi will be able to heal their family sometime, someday. It changed my entire paradigm of how I see a loved one’s passing and will be one of the greatest gifts you’ve ever given me. Thank you. I hope to pay if forward now and use it to the person that saved my life and had the Divine bring back to you after 13 years to help me get to where I need and want to be so that that hopefully it will help her since I never would have seen you again if it wasn’t for her saving MY life. Maybe she couldn’t save her dad, but she sure as the universe saved mine. Rhi says hi and she read a post where you mentioned ” all of your little children” and said shes included in them for sure. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this. If you do, please let me know. It’s just such a gift for helping to deal with grief and loss of a loved one. I hope you are well. 🙂 Thank you for giving me my life back. I may have done the work, but Jessica and Lisa are the ones that got me to you and you are the architect that had the plan and I am forever thankful that you made me strong enough to be here when the person that is responsible for me getting back to you in a weird Divine way can now use some of the things you taught me for herself and her family. Namaste. I honor you always.

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