memorial day
Memorial Day 2014:

Don’t Forget To Remember 

It’s Memorial Day and if you’re like us here at #TeamGEM, we’re taking it easy. Traditionally it’s thought of as the unofficial start to summer but it’s really more.

So much more.

The freedoms that are so dear to us, were paid for by the service and sacrifice of men and women who fought and died for them.

I grew up in a military family; I have a number of friends who are either active duty or married to people who are.

They are about that life.

Related: Life Lessons.. Military Editions: Andrea Hanson 

I was curious about how they would be observing Memorial day so I asked my friend Joy Primoli, who is currently deployed in Afghanistan.


Lt Col. Primoli works with the Combined Joint Inter-agency Task Force 435 (CJIATF 435).

In her words, “Our mission is advising and assisting the Afghan government with the capturing, investigating, and prosecuting of terrorists. I am with the US Air Force, but because our organization is Joint – we are comprised of all branches of the services…but mainly Army. I am a JAG (military speak for lawyer). I am from St Louis, Missouri and in 14 years. I have been based in Louisiana, DC, California, Illinois, Germany, Texas, and now Afghanistan.”

I asked her what those in her unit would be doing on Memorial Day and this is what she told me:

“It is our normal duty day (every day is). We are going to start the morning with a Memorial Service for two of my unit’s members who were killed in a Suicide Vehicle Bombing in February. They were contractors assigned to our unit, so not active duty military but assigned and worked everyday with us. Paul Goins and Michael Hughes, both died on February 10th. So we will remember them with a ceremony and then we will go back to work as normal.

I will also say a prayer and remember two friends/co-worker’s husbands that have been killed. Capt Jenna Grassbaugh was an intern deployed with my office last summer. Her husband, Capt Jon Grassbaugh was killed in Iraq in 2007. Jenna has a blog about her journey as a 22 year-old widow. And another Air Force member, Capt Dana Lyon was deployed and went to church with me. Her husband, Capt David Lyon, was deployed to another base here. He came to visit for two days at Christmas to see Dana. When his convoy left our base, he was killed by a suicide vehicle bomb on 27 December 2013.

Such a sad time on Memorial Day, maybe that is what America doesn’t really see. It is a really sad day for a lot of people. I never really realized the sadness of the day until the last few years, myself.  Three years ago, I went to the American Military Cemetery in Luxembourg (where General Patton is buried); two years ago, I went to the American Military Cemetery in Normandy. This year, I have friends who have died and friends whose husbands have died. Sorry to be a bummer.

The rest of our day is pretty boring with work. No, we won’t have any BBQs, no alcohol (I would give a lot for a drink after this year), and no swimming or boating. On the upside, after 1 year, I am out of here 24 days and I have made amazing friends that I would now call family. I am closer to co-workers than I have ever been in my life (which may or may not be a good thing…I hear about everyone’s poop problems). And I have done some amazing work and I have been able to do more than I thought I ever could. So yes, it is a sacrifice to be deployed, but we do get rewarded.”

So today, as you are pushing yourself back from the table full of hot dogs and apple pie, I would just ask that you remember Lt. Col. Joy Primoli, Jenna Grassbaugh and the many others who have given their lives for the freedoms we often take for granted.

Thank you readers.. and thank you Joy. Praying for your safety and that of all of our service men and women.