Reflective Memorial Day Wishes

When I was younger, I loved Memorial Day because it meant a day off from school or work.

Some of my fondest memories as a youngster were made on Memorial Day, when each year my family and I would go camping at Dockweiler Beach in Playa del Rey, California. We'd spend our days playing volleyball on the beach, bodysurfing in the waves, and our nights roasting marshmallows and hot dogs over a campfire, then watching fireworks.

As I've grown older, Memorial Day has taken on a profound significance, shaped by my family roots and a deep respect for the sacrifices made by our nation's heroes.

When I met my wife 21 years ago, I had no idea that her grandfather, Dennis Bales Jr., was one of those decorated war heroes. He was wounded by a grenade on Makin Island in the South Pacific, and just like in the movies, the medic threw sulfur powder on it, yet it still got infected due to the island's humidity and conditions. The worst part was not the intense pain he experienced receiving stitches without anesthesia but losing 25 of his comrades in his squad on that fatal day. Despite his heroics, he was a humble man who never really spoke about his war experiences.

Similarly, my wife didn't know that my grandfather, Stanley Sabihon, was also a decorated war hero. He served as a fighter pilot in WWII, completing 51 bombing missions. One mission involved taking out one of Hitler's crucial oil factories in Czechoslovakia, which was successful, but in the process, his B-17 bomber was shot down. He successfully crash-landed on the beach of the Adriatic Sea, and he and his crew had to be smuggled by Yugoslavian guerrillas to make it back home.

Both men were incredibly fortunate to survive the war and return home to raise their families. I'm profoundly grateful for God's grace and providence in allowing them to survive. If they hadn't made it through, Ali and I wouldn't be here today.

Today, I have an even greater appreciation for the courageous men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. This is a time for our nation to pause and honor their lives.

Now living in Florida, I've seen the vibrant spirit of Memorial Day in our community. Walking with Ali through our neighborhood this past weekend, we were moved by the display of American flags in our neighbors' yards, reflecting their gratitude and patriotism.

Inspired, Ali and our daughter placed flags in our front yard Friday night. As they did, the sun pierced through the temporary gloom, reminding us that behind every dark cloud there is a silver lining. How fitting that on this monumental weekend, we celebrate the ultimate sacrifices made for our freedoms. (See pictures above)

As we gather with loved ones this Memorial Day, we have much to be thankful for as we consider the true essence of the day.

Let's honor the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice and acknowledge the profound debt of gratitude we owe them.

May your Memorial Day be filled with appreciation, surrounded by loved ones, and enriched by the solemnity of remembrance.

Wishing you a reflective, grateful, and blessed Memorial Day.
- Dr. Derek 'Indebted for the Ultimate Sacrifice' Taylor