The Hidden Sector

Memorial Day Reflections, a mindful code to follow

P’s and Q’s of understanding Memorial Day, and a nonprofit biker group in support of veterans


I am sure you are aware; that this weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and while many of us will be celebrating with BBQ, boats, or beaches, I think it is important to take a moment to reflect on the reason for Memorial Day, which may surprise you a bit.

Initially, Memorial Day began to honor those who died in the Civil War, but of course, it has become a day to honor all American veterans who gave their lives in sacrifice for our nation. In my research, I also found a site that gave five things you should NOT do on Memorial Day:

  • Don’t wish anyone a ‘Happy Memorial Day’ - This is not Christmas. In 1868, Gen. John Logan declared the day for “the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”
  • Don’t thank the current troops - At least, don’t thank them just because it’s Memorial Day. They deserve respect and gratitude every day of the year, but this day is set aside specifically for America’s fallen warriors from every war. We honor America’s veterans in November on Veteran’s Day when we remember and appreciate the sacrifices of all veterans. But Memorial Day allows the country to focus on those service members who are no longer with us – an important distinction.
  • Don’t disregard its importance - When we focus only on backyard barbecues or discounts on refrigerators, we allow the true meaning to become lost. This is especially egregious when our country has perpetually been at war.
  • Don’t forget it exists - Even worse than allowing the day to become synonymous with deep discounts and potato salad, it is letting it completely slip from the public’s mind. When it becomes simply a highly anticipated extra morning of sleeping in, instead of the day of reflection and appreciation it was meant to be, we disrespect our fallen troops.
  • Don’t let politics keep you from rendering respect - Even if you don’t agree with the idea of war, or the reasons America goes to war, or the policies of a particular president who was the Commander in Chief during a specific war, it doesn’t matter. People have defended the people and interests of America for over 200 years, and your right to disagree with the reasons for war should be separate from your opinion of the troops themselves.

Small American Flags next to white marble gravestones on Memorial Day.
Small American Flags next to white marble gravestones on Memorial Day.

Local Support for Veterans

Being this close to JBLM, there are a lot of local nonprofits that support our troops, one such nonprofit is Combat Veterans International. The mission of Combat Veterans is to support all veterans, especially combat veterans, regardless of race, religion, age, sex, or country of origin as well as to fit into the areas where we live: According to Tim “Train” Lutz, Vice-President of Chapter 12 in Olympia, “we are a non-confrontational/non-territorial motorcycle organization, showing respect for all humankind. And we proudly ride in honor and respect of all Prisoners of War, Missing in Action, and those brothers and sisters who were killed in combat supporting our country, in past, present, and future military actions”.

Started in Washington

Combat Veterans International (CVI) was created on March 3, 1998, by a core group of 5 veterans, with a common interest in motorcycles and in helping other veterans in their community. Originating in Ferndale, Washington, the organization has grown and branched out. As a nonprofit organization, CVI members contribute their time, energy, and money to their communities by serving as Fallen Warrior Escorts, Unclaimed Veteran Escorts, participating in Wreaths Across America, as well as community fundraising, providing scholarships for Military/Veteran Families, conducting food and clothing drives, computer donations, and sobriety support. According to Joe “Six Pack” Beers, the current President of CVI Chapter 12 in Olympia, “we support all veterans, especially combat veterans, to the best of our ability”. CVI membership is open to all combat veterans, regardless of service or country of origin who are interested in serving their communities and having a fellowship of motorcycle enthusiasts. CVI Chapter 12 in Olympia holds a monthly meeting at the VFW on Martin Way E. Go to CVI Chapter 12 for more details.

Bigelow House Re-Opens for Tours

The updated and revitalized Bigelow House Museum opened for visitors two Sundays ago in honor of Mother’s Day. Regular tours will resume in June on the first two Sundays of every month. Visitors will be able to visit both the upstairs and downstairs of the house as well as new displays and decor.

Soliciting your ideas

If you know of a nonprofit that is doing something great, celebrating a success, needs some outstanding volunteers, or hosting an event, let me know! This column (aside from a little education) celebrates nonprofits!

Mary Beth Harrington, CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) lives in Tumwater. She travels the country speaking at conferences and to individual organizations articulating issues facing nonprofits. Send your ideas to her at


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