Monday morning, May 31st, 2021. I’ve published a Monday Morning Meditation almost as long as the show’s been around. While the whole project is built around important questions, Monday’s installments are specially focused on something to ask of yourself across that week. Something to ponder, to consider, on which to meditate. This week, in honor of the holiday, I’m asking all of us simply: Are we each the best versions of ourselves? And if the answer’s “no” (which it certainly is in my case), then are we working toward it?
I don’t always know my question before recording the Meditation. Sometimes I record on Monday morning, just minutes before 6:00am. And sometimes, the question’s been lodged in my mind for days. This week, I knew I would tie into Memorial Day, I just didn’t know how. And to be honest, I didn’t want to lean on a trite reminder that we remember veterans and the military members who died and that we’re all grateful. Not that we shouldn’t remember. Not that we’re not incredibly grateful. But there needs to be more meat on the bone, don’t you think?
Rich Cardona, founder and owner of Rich Cardona Media, published a post in LinkedIn Sunday afternoon that answered a similar call. It was something different. It caught your eye and forced you to read on–kinda what you expect from a personal branding and media expert. Rich is a retired Marine helicopter pilot, so is no stranger to military life and combat. His point, in a nutshell, was that he was going to stop posting reminders to honor our fallen brothers and sisters that often carry a subtext of judgment toward our fellow Americans who never spent time in the military. While I’m sure most of these posts don’t intend to guilt-trip others, the reality is veterans tend to take ownership of these holidays and plaster their own take on what the holiday is about. The posts riddle social media and, I think, can have a counterproductive effect on everyone else. We should honor each and every person who didn’t make it home. We should speak their names and remember their stories. But we shouldn’t look down upon those who didn’t join the military, who don’t know a veteran or aren’t sure which holiday is for which category of service member; and we definitely should not judge those who celebrate today as the unofficial start of summer and an excuse to light up the grill and knock back a couple beers. Because, to Rich’s point, while the veterans among us may gather to toast fallen comrades, the rest of us can honor them best by reaching toward a simple goal: being the best American we can possibly be.
I think that’s a goal worth exploring. So I ask you this week, amidst the parades and celebration and memorials, are YOU the best you can be? You don’t have to be an American to find value in the question; this goes for anyone, no matter where you’re from, how you identify, or what language you speak. To strive every day toward the best version of yourself is to take hold of all of your freedom and make the best choices you can for your family, your teams, and yourself. As Americans, that’s absolutely within our control and a fabulous way to honor those men and women who laid down their lives for this country. Whether we know one or not, whether we know a veteran or not, the least we can do is to strive for the best we can do.