May is a season of looking ahead and remembering the past. As our youth graduate from high school and college, we feel their expectations and dreams ahead. With the freshness of a graduating class, we also honor all those who served and lost their lives in wars and conflicts. Memorial Day serves as a time to express our sorrow and an enduring sense of gratitude for all done to protect our freedom.

Graduating Provides a New Platform for Service

Remembering and looking forward can be an uncomfortable bluff to gain perspective upon. Loss is forever. Optimism seems endless, too, as a new path opens. The common element may be serving.

Graduating from school opens a new platform from which to serve. Without serving, looking forward is just speculation. Remembering is a look back at what serving has meant. Loss digs a hole. Gratitude and honor create support to recover our footing.

Never taking the step forward also produces a hole.

Higher ideals inspire women and men to join the armed forces while creating a path forward in their own lives. Military service combines a mix of joining a community of dedicated individuals to protect freedom with creating a life path forward for an individual. It is a blend of a higher calling with a personal one. Without taking this military service step forward, a hole within expands.

When graduating from high school and college, a personal satisfaction glows, and optimism renews. New graduates join a new life stage with a designated community of the next educational institution or workplace. Each individual may have lofty goals in what college will mean or what the new workplace will offer. Bright-eyed and ready yet other forces sidetrack us. Too many parties, choices of immediate and brief satisfaction, too focused on money, too focused on short-term revenue and profitability objectives, and the list grows in what can stop our step forward. Without acting on our lofty goals, a hole in our soul begins to grow.

A serving mindset entails sacrifice.

Memorial Day remembers the sacrifice of serving. An equally bold reminder is what we would sacrifice without the courage to serve.

New graduates need to embrace Memorial Day as a reminder to serve wherever you are. If you do not have a noble goal, then define one and serve. If you have a higher goal, then never lose sight of it or put it on hold for a lesser, fleeting objective.

Wherever we are, we can do better.

We don’t have to build walls. We can build bridges. Building bridges is a serving mindset.

We don’t have to put people down to advance our careers. We can build others up. Making others better is a serving mindset.

We don’t have to put winning above all else. If we are not creating well, no one wins. Creating is a serving mindset.

We don’t have to impose our self-centered objectives on others. We can collaborate and rally around a higher purpose in what we pursue. Focusing on a higher purpose is a serving mindset.

The most uncomfortable element about remembering and looking forward is death. In battles, death comes too early for those who serve. In careers, death comes too early in the form of regret for our purpose left undone. Life is too short in both. The courage to serve and exert the effort to do what matters most saves us from fading away unnoticed.

Memorial Day and Graduation Day create an interwoven and powerful reminder. We remember the enduring legacy of a serving mindset. We must never sidetrack our work to achieve a higher mission. Our soul needs this aspiration as do our communities of life, work, and citizenship.