Remembering Memorial Day

  • Americans don’t know who among us is retired military.
  • Our numbers coupled with our humility virtually makes us a silent minority.
  • Don’t be silent! Talk about who you represent.

On this Memorial Day, we pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. May the examples of their sacrifice inspire us to selfless love. Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace.

Recently, I received a Memorial Day newsletter called “Army Echoes.” It is a publication for Army Retirees. In it was an article entitled “The Problem with Being Humble.” This prompted a discussion with my Retired Ranger Buddy Lieutenant Colonel Chad Walker on Humility.  Chad sponsors a Gofundme page under RANGER Walker walk for Veterans.

Sideboys render honors to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson upon his arrival aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary P. Wickline)

We agreed that everyone should strive to be humble, but not too humble. For the sake of full disclosure I should report that I have never been accused of being too humble.

We talked about the difference between arrogance, self esteem and humility. Arrogance in my opinion is the act of “bigging yourself up”—whether publicly or just inside your own mind. Often it involves knocking others down at the same time.

Self-Esteem functions as part of our Emotional Immune System. So, what distinguishes between people who feel confidence and pride from those who are boastful and arrogant?

Psychologists distinguish between two kinds of pride. Authentic pride arises when we feel good about ourselves, confident, and productive, and is related to socially-desirable personality traits.  Hubristic pride tends to involve egotism and arrogance, and is related to socially undesirable traits.

Humility, sometimes referred to as modesty, is one of the strengths of character.  Humility is defined as not thinking more highly of oneself than is warranted.

Almost every retired soldier I know is “humble.”  It’s just not in our character to promote ourselves. Therein lies a problem for the Army and in fact the military at large.

U.S. Marines with Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/1, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Malaysian Armed Forces use smoke for concealment at an amphibious raid exercise during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2018, August 17, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. A. J. Van Fredenberg)

Americans don’t know who among us is retired military. Only 0.6% of the American population is retired military.  We are an extreme minority. Our numbers coupled with our humility virtually makes us a silent minority.

Most Americans don’t know their military, which is a major problem.  Very few folks live close to military bases. They seldom don’t get an opportunity to talk to us.

Most Americans feel that they should thank us for our service, but few really know why.  They don’t know what the military do in their name to preserve and defend their way of life.  Most Americans don’t understand the sacrifices of military families.

And Americans won’t know if they aren’t told.

So, this Ranger is issuing a challenge to the rertired military living in towns and cities across this great nation.

“Ruck Up!”

  • Wear Apparel or place window or bumper stickers on your car that will start a conversation about your service.
  • Set the example by the way you live and get involved in your community.
  • Join and support your local Veteran Service Organization e.g. DAV, American Legion, VFW.

When you put on this rucksack, be a little less humble.  Don’t be silent! Talk about who you represent. Tell them your Army story and why you served. Tell them that today’s soldiers are doing their part to preserve our way of life.  Inspire them.

Let’s not be a silent minority.

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Dana Matthews

Dr Dana Matthews is a Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Ranger (Retired). He holds a BA in Journalism, an MBA/JD Law Degree, and a Doctorate in Organizational Psychology.He is a Member of the National Press Club in Washington DC and has appeared on TV and Radio.He was awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart for Combat Wounded Veterans.Dr Dana Matthews is a well published Journalist and writer with articles appearing in the Scripps Newspaper/ TCPALM.COMHe also co authored and published a novel entitled " El Segundo- One Man's Journey for Redemption". 

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