Talk Story: Major General (Ret.) Mary Kay Hertog

Commander, Kauai Veterans Center


Memorial Day Is May 31st And It’s Fast Approaching

To many Americans, Memorial Day is a three- day weekend that signals the beginning of summer. Folks head to the beach, hang out with friends, and have family get togethers. But to the men and women in the Armed Forces, to our veterans and their families, Memorial Day is so much more. It’s the one day of the year we set aside to honor those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice and died while serving in the military.


Many people confuse Memorial Day, (which is always the last Monday of May), with Veterans Day, which is always observed on November 11th.  Veterans Day recognizes and pays tribute to all veterans, living or dead. On this holiday we especially give thanks and celebrate our living veterans who served our country during war and peacetime.


Are veterans unique?

I think so, but I’m biased because I’m a veteran too.  But think of it this way, less than one percent of the population in the US has served in the Armed Forces so that makes them unique. Our veterans are willing to make sacrifices to serve their country. They have to endure separations from their families and loved ones when they deploy or get a remote assignment to a location their family cannot join them. They have to move quite often which means uprooting their families, starting over in a new state or country, a new neighborhood, a new job, and the list goes on.


Our veterans can face many challenges, especially when returning from a deployment or leaving the military and trying to readjust to life. Our combat veterans may face even greater challenge.  Some may have physical injuries and some may have invisible injuries and suffer from post traumatic stress from what they’ve seen or done. These veterans need our help, support and understanding.