“…For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it…” National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, at the inauguration of the 46th U. S. president.

“If only we’re brave enough,” those five words say it all and they poignantly remind us to pause and show appreciation on Memorial Day. Yes, this last Monday in May is a holiday and comes with time off from work but it’s so much more.

It is a time to reflect on what this day means, to say thanks, and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of freedom. Our hearts break when our soldiers die in combat, during training exercises, or through other tragic circumstances but the sentiment from their family and friends is usually the same, “they were doing what they loved.”

We are blessed and fortunate that with an all-volunteer military, the brave still step up to the plate to defend, protect, and serve. These amazing individuals put their hopes and dreams on hold to serve a country they love and to invest in a cause greater than themselves.

After the flags adorning the coffins have been carefully removed, folded, and presented to the families “on behalf of a grateful nation,” let’s remember we, too, have a part to play. If we stand idly by and let hatred, division, confusion, and lies define us, we’ve made their fight for freedom a sham.

When we fail to put our differences aside and work together to build safe schools, workplaces, churches, communities, and public spaces, democracy takes a back seat to chaos and disorder.

Our fallen heroes gave all they had—the adage is “all gave some, but some gave all,” so we must do more and better — otherwise this time of sacred remembrance for those who died in combat or active service becomes just another Monday, just another day off.

Speaking of doing better, May was Jewish American Heritage Month and though Jews have been around forever, they are still targets for hatred, misinformation, and violence. Unfortunately, harassment is increasing, and synagogues and other entities are under attack.

Recently Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene compared having to wear masks with the horrors of the Holocaust. I’m not sure who wrote the history books she’s reading but millions of Jews were killed during the Holocaust and the horrors of it are beyond comprehension.

At the least, wearing a mask is an inconvenience, but being rounded up like animals, dying in gas chambers, and from starvation, mistreatment, and abuse is forever. I pray her constituents will introduce her to some survivors this month and send her an accurate account of these atrocities.

While I strongly disagree with much of what Ms. Taylor Greene says, the “BRAVE” people we celebrate on Memorial Day gave her the privilege and the right to spread her brand of misery far and wide. Our job today is to listen to our own hearts and learn more about the rich and proud heritage of Jewish people.

I’m always looking for a reason to celebrate but even I can’t keep up with everything that needs celebrating. In May we saw an emphasis on dental care, stroke awareness, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and all are worthy of attention, but this is also National Foster Care Month . This is an excellent time to consider providing refuge for children who must be removed from their homes. Foster parenting is challenging but rewarding and if you think you have what it takes, check it out.

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. Now listen to her new podcast, “Three Stores, Two Cotton Gins, One Remarkable Life: The Journey from There To Here,” and meet her favorite family and friends as they share laughter and heartwarming life lessons. Look for it on this page or wherever you get your favorite podcasts.

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