UNITED STATES—Memorial Day has come and gone America, which prompted many Americans to fire up the grill and officially kick off the summer season. Yes, who doesn’t like a good BBQ, but at the same time, I think so many of us forget what Memorial Day is all about. It is a holiday where we are to pay tribute to the soldiers who sacrificed their life to ensure we could enjoy the freedoms that we have in this country. For me, Memorial Day is indeed a special day because I have so many family members, ESPECIALLY on my dad’s side who have served. My grandfather, two of my uncles and cousins have all served for the military.

It is scary when you think about it because when someone serves their country it is a good chance they might not come home. For my family, thankfully I don’t have any relatives who were killed while serving their country, but the fact that they served this great country to begin with, is what is most important. With that said, I pay extra tribute to my grandfather who died 2 years ago in April. He served in World War II and I don’t know all the parameters of what he endured while serving our country I just know he endured some major trauma.

For starters, he was thrown out of a fighter plane and ambushed with gunfire on that beach overseas where so many Americans lost their lives. That is a reason why he never flew on a plane the reminder of his life. Thru the grace of God, he survived, and I do recall him sharing a tale about him just asking God to get him thru this beach. He later served as a man who held prisoners from the opposite side who called him the N-word on countless occasions. The language barrier was pretty bad, but my grandfather later discovered the prisoners were hurling slurs at him, but had no idea at the time. They were hoping he would align with them and let him go.

My grandfather shared how he was not allowed to be in close contact with Whites, who were his allies. It was so crazy to hear even in the middle of war there was still segregation and racism. Beyond those snippets, I know my grandfather returned to the United States where he married my grandmother and they had a bevy of children. He worked for the auto industry for years and found himself in a situation where he didn’t have the same opportunities levied to him as his White counterparts when he came back to the U.S. He had trouble getting a loan from a bank to purchase his first home, that so many of his counterparts who didn’t share the same melatonin as him easily got.

I’m just sharing a snippet of my grandfather’s story because while we are firing up that grill we have to be attuned to the fact that survivors of war, veterans of war endured things that many of us will never understand or can even imagine. Yes, there is a difference between Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, but the thing to remember is that we should acknowledge our war heroes, the survivors and those who did not survive.

Remember if not for them, we wouldn’t be able to just walk out the house, go about our day as if there is no threat looking to take us out. We have so many freedoms that so many of us overlook, forget and don’t realize. That is not good people. Memorial Day is not just about eating good food, spending time with family and firing up the grill. It is about realizing the freedoms we have thanks to people willing to sacrifice their life, and risk there life to fight in a war or wars that change them forever. All is not happily ever after as we like to think, so take a moment and think about those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Remember them because it matters so much more than you can ever understand.