Before picnics and pool openings, Americans recognize something far more significant than just the start of summer. The last Monday in May serves as a time to honor those who died while fighting in the U.S. Armed Forces. While we enjoy our three-day weekend, we also want to take this time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while defending our nation.
At United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA), we are proud to offer programs such as Priority Veteran, which is focused on serving U.S. military veterans and their families who have become homeless or are in danger of losing their homes. Case managers not only provide veterans with resources to help them remain housed and financially stable, but they conduct active community outreach to locate and help as many as possible.
Some case managers are veterans themselves, including Priority Veteran Case Manager LaQuanda Hall. In recognition of Memorial Day, we asked what this occasion means to her and countless others who have proudly stepped forward for their country.
“Memorial Day holds a special place in the hearts of those who have served because many of us have lost battle buddies whom we have served with over the years,” said LaQuanda. “Rather than it being a day of celebration, it is mostly a day of reflection and giving thanks to those who are no longer with us. The military is like one big family, and we treat each other as such, whether we knew each other personally or not. So, it is a day where I am both saddened and honored at the same time as I reflected upon the sacrifices that many have given.”
LaQuanda served in the Army on active duty from 2005 to 2012 as an Automated Logistical Specialist. Her stations included Ft. Drum, NY; Camp Humphreys, South Korea; Ft. Gordon, GA; Ft. Leonard Wood, MO and Ft. Bragg, NC. She knew she wanted to join the military since 3rd grade after having a dad in the National Guard and watching her uncles serve.
“I can remember seeing my neighbors standing outside waiting for the school bus in their JROTC uniforms and I told myself that I wanted to wear them one day,” said LaQuanda.
Having outstanding JROTC instructors in high school, supportive parents and a positive recruiter affirmed her early decision. Now, each Memorial Day, she hopes people find their way back to the reason we honor this day in the first place.
“In a way, I feel as though the true meaning of Memorial Day has been lost over the years,” said LaQuanda.
“I want people to just take a moment to remember those who are no longer here with us and to feel a sense of pride knowing that these individuals are the true definition of selfless service. All gave some, but some have given all.”
A good first step to show your support on Memorial Day this year is to participate in the National Moment of Remembrance held each Memorial Day at 3 p.m. for one minute across the country.