What are we supposed to remember?

Graves_at_Arlington_on_Memorial_DayWhen you look back on your family history, your own personal history and, perchance, your involvement or recollection of mankind’s events later deemed to be historical, what do you remember? More importantly, what are you sharing with young people, be they family or not, so that they know what they’re supposed to remember?

I’ve been thinking about memories and life events a lot lately, no doubt because of several that have happened to me. My eldest daughter recently turned 18, is about to graduate high school and will be a college student sooner than I will be able to comprehend. I got a notice the other day (on Facebook of all places), that reminded me 2015 is the year of my 30th high school class reunion. I had to nod and laugh when a classmate posted, “Wait, don’t we have 15 years until this happens?”

And today is Memorial Day — a holiday designed for us to remember those who have served and sacrificed in our name as the protectors of life and defenders of freedom.

I recently started keeping a list of things that kids today won’t understand as time passes and references made by my generation will lose their historical and sometimes humorous meaning.

I was originally going to write a post looking at how life has evolved so rapidly in the past 30 years, and how the next generation or two are more likely to take modern conveniences for granted even more than my generation has.

I’ll hit on that list in an upcoming blog post, but today isn’t about remembering things to laugh about. Today is about remembering those killed in action while serving their military, serving their country, and — whether you agreed with the cause or not — serving you.

imdb memorial dayI watched the movie Memorial Day (again) last night because my wife hadn’t seen it yet and it seemed apropos to see on Memorial Day Weekend. It wasn’t a high-action summer blockbuster so you may not have heard about it, but it’s a well-done tale of two soldiers, one who serves in Iraq in the mid-2000s, as well as his grandfather, who served in WWII. It’s not a war movie so much as it is about the memories of war and sharing them (or not) with family.

Without giving any spoilers not already available from the movie’s summary paragraph, a key moment occurs early in the film in a conversation between the WWII vet and his grandson when the boy asks about the war. Initially, the grandfather is extremely reluctant to share any tales, but then this exchange occurs:

Grandson: “It’s Memorial Day.”

Grandpa: “You’re damn straight it is.”

Grandson: “What am I supposed to remember?”

That’s what gets the grandfather talking — the realization that people don’t know what they’re supposed to remember if generations don’t pass on stories and information about a time that was and will never be again. We must never forget why we celebrate Memorial Day, which is to honor those who died while serving in the military. Do not confuse it with Veterans Day or, as has become more commonplace unfortunately, as the official start of summer vacation season. Please lower your flags to half-staff, because that’s more important than lowering the cover of your grill for your backyard feast. Because Memorial Day is different from other flag holidays, you also need to raise the flag at noon, which is more important than raising a beer to celebrate summer.

It’s Memorial Day. Today is about remembering those who have given the last sacrifice, who deserve to have a tear shed for them and their families, and who have earned our greatest measure of respect.

May they all rest in peace.

(Photos courtesy of IMBD and Wikipedia.)



24: It only works on TV

This post was written between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.

For those familiar with the popular TV show “24,” my opening line will make sense. For the rest of you, it probably just raises the question of WTF I’m doing awake and writing a blog post this long before sunrise. The truth is I’ve been up since 4 a.m. anyway thanks to blizzard warnings issued via my National Weather Service radio and an inability to get back to sleep once my brain’s On switch has been flipped.

I figured I  might as well use this time to finally write the post that’s been rolling around in that over-active and over-taxed brain. The post is about how 24 hours in a day just aren’t enough. How it’s difficult to keep up with a very busy day job, a night job, blogging gigs, consulting gigs, freelance writing gigs, self-improvement, professional associations, community projects, local networking events, continuing education, reading blogs, following news alerts, staying informed on local, state, national and international news, not to mention housework, home maintenance, car maintenance, being a great dad, being a loving husband, exercising and enjoying reading a book or magazine for pure enjoyment. Oh, and I suppose eating, sleeping and personal hygiene need to be on that list, too.

I’ve kept up with most of everything on the list above. When things have slipped, it’s been in what I believe to be the correct order. My wife and kids come before housework, for example. And my day job that is the thing truly paying the bills takes precedent over projects for professional associations or freelance writing. I’ve sometimes passed up eating and sleeping, but I’m proud to say I’ve not let personal hygiene slip!

I’m a big user of social media, particularly Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. I used to use LinkedIn a lot more than I do now. I still use it for maintaining a network and, let’s face it, it’s primarily  a rolling resume for most of us now. But I don’t post status updates there as much as I used to or answer questions like I did from time to time. And while I’m published once per week at the Digital Pivot blog, I haven’t published an original post here for quite a while. I just don’t have the time and something has to give.

I’ve prided myself on being able to get by on 6 hours of sleep per night with a few doses of caffeine thrown in. But lately I’ve realized that I’m not as young as I used to be and recovering from all-day and all-night binges of work and being a family man can’t be recovered from as easily anymore, no matter how many Red Bulls I have at my disposal.

So, within that context, it was interesting to read a blog post from Arik Hanson asking “Where the heck did David Mullen go?” It’s a great post asking about a guy whom we used to see all the time on social media outlets and who was regarded as a leader in that realm. The post and the comments that followed are worth taking the time to read — after all, even I found the time to at least skim most of it. I won’t repeat here what the pro and con arguments are regarding coming and going from social media as your life circumstances dictate. But I will point out that David is not the only one who has come and gone from social media and not come off the worse for wear. If you’ll recall, Shannon Paul disappeared for quite some time, but has now come back with a flourish and holds a great job heading up social media at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, not to mention her Very Official Blog. The break she took from riding the crazy train of social media doesn’t seem to have hurt her career.

We all have talents that can be put to good use on social media as well as in other areas of our lives. The problem arises when we think that one of those talents is creating more hours in a day. It can’t be done. As Scotty, the venerable engineer on Star Trek, used to say, “Ya canna’ change the laws of physics.”

No matter how much we think we are capable of doing, we are restricted to 24 hours per day in which to do it. On TV, the concept behind “24” works. Each episode was based on what occurred during a single hour in a single day. But the day was stretched out over an entire season of television and each hour seemed to be self-contained without the pressures of what didn’t get done last hour and the to-do list looming in the hour ahead.

But in real life, it’s not like that. At some point, something has to give. I suppose it’s our way of playing the director of our lives and yelling, “Cut!” So I’ve made some decisions to scale back. I’ll take baby steps at first — not posting to this blog as often was one of them. I’ve also pulled back from Digital Pivot, reducing my commitment to two posts per month instead of once per week. I’d say self-improvement time has been scaled back, but perhaps making some changes to my commitment level is a form of self-improvement, so I’ll let that one slide.

I’m not sure what else to give up yet. If you have some suggestions based on things that have worked or not worked for you, I’d be interested in hearing them. Just remember to give me some time to ease into them. After all, this concept of saying “no” is kind of new to me.