Memorial Day – Our lack of connection with the people who serve

“For all of you, I ask that the next time you see a service member or veteran, thank them. Know that they stand tall for you. Know that they are the face of America in many regions, and it’s a pretty damn good face.”

Colonel Jordan S. Chroman, OBE, US Army

This week, my high-school buddy, his wife and daughter closed the doors of their shipping

Col. Jordan Chroman

Col. Jordan Chroman

container, bound for South Korea.  I asked him if he was jazzed about this new deployment and in typical Jordan fashion he said, “I’m so very honored by this opportunity; you just don’t know how excited I am.”

Let’s take a raise of hands … anyone out there that wants to go to South Korea right now?

Col Jordan Chroman, U.S. Army, Deputy to the Deputy. Assistant Secretary of Defense (Material Readiness) – has been serving stateside – not with his boots on dirt, but the highly polished floors in DC, for over three years now, one stop of many. Since age 19, he has set his boots down in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Serbia, and I’m sure, other places I will most likely never know about.

It is hard to believe that this man is one and the same as the somewhat “nerdly,” artistic

Me in my mom's WAC uniform and Jordan circa 1983

Me in my mom’s WAC uniform and Jordan circa 1983

boy that I met in 9th grade. But I know this; at any given moment, no matter where he is in this world, he will always have my back — and more broadly, the back of our country.

Jordan’s candid words and insight remind me that integrity still exists in these tough times.

As I place my flag outside on this windy Sunday here in Reno, I’m thinking of Jordan and his family, as this will be their last Memorial Day spent in our country for the next two years.

Perfect timing to share a piece he wrote for me as a guest contributorFlag in 2011 for Raving,  on what Memorial Day really means.

His words remind me that the folks that serve, away from their families for months at  time, are our faces around the world; they are peacekeepers, they are humanitarians.

Thank you.


Contributed by Colonel Jordan S. Chroman, OBE, US Army

“Memorial Day (or Decoration Day, as it was originally called) is simply meant to be a dayChroman Photo - COL - 30 July 10-Headshot Cropped of remembrance — a day that we set aside to honor those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who died in the service of our country.

“Although the idea of the day was born out of the horrors and immense losses of the Civil War, this is not a day about the division between the North and South, or the differences between conservatives and liberals, or the rich and the poor; it is a day when all Americans should put aside politics, religion, and social status and come together to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Many Americans think of Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer, a three-day weekend, or a great time for picnics or barbeques. As we enjoy these activities, it’s important to remember the real reason for this holiday. Today, significantly less than 1% of all Americans serve in the military, veterans make up less than 8% of our current population, and many Americans have no real connection to those serving.

“The war is ‘over there’ and it’s ‘sad that we lost some soldiers in Afghanistan,’ but there is little to no personal connection between the majority of our population and those who serve.

 “I can personally assure you that the men and women of our armed forces are exceptional. Each has his or her own story — some educated at Ivy League schools, others who worked hard to get a GED. Most come from ordinary backgrounds and are now part of an organization that routinely does extraordinary things.”

“As a career soldier, I have been deployed on numerous military operations all over the world, and my greatest honor and most significant challenges have dealt with leading soldiers in battle. These warriors, often very young men and women, have done everything we as a nation have asked them to do, and so much more. In our current conflicts, Soldiers and Marines are asked to conduct combat operations one day, and help rebuild schools the next. They have to be prepared to accomplish successful combat patrols, and then be able to shift with little notice and conduct humanitarian and nation-building type missions. That is sometimes a difficult switch to click on and off. But they do

Today: Clockwise Chris, Jordan, Jackson, Arsinoe and Monica. Old-school pals

Today: Clockwise Chris, Jordan, Jackson, Arsinoe and Monica. Old-school pals

it, and do so well.

“There are no better ambassadors for America than the soldiers with ‘boots on the ground.’ In their daily dealings with the average Iraqi or Afghani, they show compassion, integrity, fairness, and are shining examples of what is best about America. They endure hardship without complaint, have been separated from their families over and over again for 12-15 months at a time, are often put in harm’s way, in harrowing situations, and when you begin to wonder how they continue to go on, they do — with a positive attitude, a smile, and a sense of determination. They are willing to ‘ruck up’ and get the mission done, to soldier on, for their buddies, their unit, and their nation.

“Sadly, we have lost thousands of our best during these recent conflicts. The death tolls from Iraq and Afghanistan continue to rise — with just over six thousand deaths to date. It is a tragic loss and each person who died has his or her own story. Additionally, thousands more have been severely wounded from IEDs and other enemy actions. I ask that you take the time on Memorial Day to think of them, their families, and our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who stand resolutely around the globe. They aren’t there for the money, or the fame, or the accolades. They do it because someone needs to, because it’s the right thing to do, because it has to be done, and because they are dedicated professionals.

“Let us make sure that we remember the real meaning of Memorial Day, which is to remember the sacrifices of our veterans, from the Revolutionary War to the Current Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. To remember the fallen, and honor them in your own way — whether that be by reaching out to serving soldiers or veterans, offering a prayer, or by simply showing your support through flying a flag and reflecting.

“To those of you reading this who have served — I thank you for your service and sacrifice. To those of you who have not served — I thank you for the support you show to our military men and women; your attitude is so very important to them.

“For all of you, I ask that the next time you see a service member or veteran, thank them. Know that they stand tall for you. Know that they are the face of America in many regions, and it’s a pretty damn good face.”

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4 Responses to Memorial Day – Our lack of connection with the people who serve

  1. arsinoe ferry says:

    Chris, thank you so much for sharing this today. A great reminder to us all. I had never seen that pic of you and Jordan(erd) and was moved to see the one of all of us included in your post. xo

  2. Chris' Pal Tom from Philly says:

    Nice, Chris. Here’s something I wrote a couple years ago:

    • powerof38 says:

      Hey Tom, thanks for sharing your link. What a sad story; you really touched a chord with “you die two deaths” because such a major part of losing someone is forgetting them from our daily lives. I think about all the old black and white pictures of relatives I have ended up with, that I don’t even know their names.

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