Admittedly, I don’t often talk about Memorial Day. I cherish this special day. But having served 23 years in the military, it can be hard to talk about this day without it feeling self-serving.

I know a lot of people get excited about Memorial Day because it means a day off work. It means family time, barbeques and big discounts. And that’s all nice.

But, when you take a step back and really take the time to think about the meaning behind Memorial Day, you’ll see it’s so much more.

There are many men and women out there that we owe a lot to. And while they deserve to be celebrated every day, this particular day gives us the chance to pay our respects to those that have given more for us than we’ll ever understand.

From our first responders to our military, millions of men and women regularly sacrifice their time with family and friends to protect and serve our country – to protect and serve you and me. They put themselves in harm’s way, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, all to keep us – complete strangers to them – safe. To say it’s humbling and heroic doesn’t do it justice.

So when 2 fellow veteran Navy SEALs started Carry the Load back in 2011, I got excited. They created active, meaningful ways to honor and celebrate the sacrifices made by our Nation’s heroes.

What started as a roughly 20-hour march is now a 6,400+ mile relay that spans 32 days. It’s a powerful experience that’s turned Memorial Day into Memorial May.

So far, more than 40,000 people in 60 cities have participated in this year’s relay. And there’s still 5 days to join in the remaining relays that are making their way down the East and West coasts.

For me personally, I Carry the Load for the close friends I made and lost in service. And while I’m no longer on active duty, I’m honored to still serve our country’s first responders through our work to build FirstNet – public safety’s own, dedicated communications platform designed to help keep themselves and those they protect safer.

This Memorial Day, whoever you Carry the Load for and however you celebrate them, I encourage you to embrace the true meaning of this day. And support those who need to know their sacrifices are not forgotten.

Chris Sambar is senior vice president of AT&T-FirstNet

 

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