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Jamie Allard: Why I celebrate on Memorial Day


Sometimes the solemnity of remembering our fallen soldiers can make it hard to accept the word “celebrate.”

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As I plan my Memorial Day celebrations, I sometimes feel a pang of guilt. It’s hard to hold remembrance and fun in the same hands.

I find myself wondering, “is a barbecue irreverent?” But I have learned that grief comes in waves, and the ones we’ve lost would want us to remember and to celebrate. We can still honor our fallen by celebrating this weekend. 

If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know how grief ebbs and flows like the tide. You know the sudden crash of a wave of sadness, where the tears well up and spill over like the foam on the beach. You know the joy of stumbling upon the beautiful memories like shells and treasures in the glistening sand. Though we mourn what we have lost, we know they would want us to live. To really live. To celebrate life every chance we get. 

Barbecuing with family and friends doesn’t mean that we have forgotten. I have planned all sorts of celebration and opportunities for joy over the three-day weekend. I’ll be attending a birthday party for a dear friend, cleaning headstones for our fallen heroes, hammocking with my daughters late at night, rejoicing with God at church on Sunday, and honoring those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice come Monday.

Just as Christ died for us and wants us to know joy in our lives, I know my brothers and sisters who gave that ultimate sacrifice would want us to be happy. They died that we might know the joy of freedom, for precious moments with our families in that security and prosperity they protected at any cost. We live our best life, to the fullest, because those who died for us gave us the ability to do so. 

So, I can take comfort that a barbecue is not irreverent. That camping trip, the fishing, the kayaking, the gardening, the baseball tournaments, all of it can bring honor to our soldiers. Take a solemn pause, lift up a “thank you” to the heavens, and toast in remembrance of the men and women who made it possible.

To our heroes, those who have gone before us, gone too soon, and those who will follow in their footsteps, we salute you. “Thank you” will never be enough. But a life well lived, that is the best remembrance we can offer. You are never forgotten.

Rep. Jamie Allard of Eagle River is a veteran serving in the Alaska Legislature.



  1. Amen and Selah. Selah (The Amplified Bible): Pause and calmly think of that! Used in several of the Psalms including Psalm 3.

  2. On Memorial Day, pay tribute to the dead, while respectfully acknowledging the sacrifices of survivors. On Veterans Day, pay tribute to surviving veterans, while respectfully acknowledging those who have transitioned to the Next Great Adventure, hopefully an eternal reward?

  3. Thank you Jamie for being the one to stand up to the radical opposition and represent us with the graceful manner you display. We are proud to have you represent us in Juneau knowing you have our best interest at heart to guide you through these challenging years ahead. While being sad to lose you as an assembly member it is a real comfort to know we have your eyes and ears open at the state level. Thanks from all my daughters who so proud of you!

  4. Of course remembering fallen comrades brings out grief. We wouldn’t be human if we did not grieve for the dead.

    But we also should celebrate that since even before the founding of our country, our society has produced citizens that are so passionate about this country that they have been willing to lay down their lives to protect the rest of us. And don’t forget the ones that did come back. Evey military member that has deployed has had that unsettling moment where they realize that THEY may be the one that doesn’t come back.

    So, a salute to those who no longer grow old and ‘thank you brother/sister’ to all those who risked it all and came home.

  5. Thankful to all those that made the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you to all that serve, and those that have served. May you all be blessed.

  6. Nice perspective. I guess that as long as many take a moment to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice I guess we can pretend that it is like a wake. The fallen would appreciate that. But we should never forget to remember, because that would make their sacrifices meaningless.

  7. Thank You Jamie for a wonderful article. I sincerely hope every American can spare a moment to give thanks to all who have sacrificed for us.

  8. Thank you. That is a beautiful way to explain how to honor and remember those who have sacrificed all.

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