A month of holidays

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Tom Cunningham
  • 49th Medical Support Squadron commander
May is a very special month, filled with many days of distinction, celebration, and commemoration. In fact, a little research revealed that May is the proud owner of 182 days of distinction, 55 separate weeks of celebration, and 83 "the month of" honors. Of greatest significance to many military members is the last major holiday of the month: Memorial Day, the ultimate commemoration of sacrifice. Also of great importance to those of us in uniform, as well as many not in uniform, is Mother's Day, which is also a very important reflection on sacrifices made, albeit of a different nature. It seems appropriate that we celebrate Holloman's 70th birthday in May as well. There are a lot of reasons to celebrate in May, but why do we mark these occasions when we do? And how should we celebrate?

The reasons and the dates for celebrating a birthday, such as Holloman's, are a little more intuitive. The date of celebration and the history being celebrated are not in dispute. Col. David Krumm [49th Wing commander] noted in a recent online story about the Holloman Tattoo that this birthday is a chance to "understand Holloman's evolution over the past 70 years." Like many birthday parties, we will tell stories about our past, have music and games, and maybe there will be a birthday cake with the appropriate number of candles. But what about Memorial Day? Why the fourth Sunday in May? There are more than a dozen claims of the "first celebration" of Memorial Day, dating back as far as the Civil War. As all were an attempt to pay respect to those who had passed, I understand the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but why do we also celebrate by a parade in every small town in America? And Mother's Day? There is only one claim of the first celebration, but Mother's Day is celebrated around the world, and not all on the day we have on our calendars. Then there is the closely related Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which is always the Friday before Mother's Day. What if that spouse is also a mother? Do we throw a three-day party? Or have a parade?

The thing that the many holidays in May have in common, to include Holloman's birthday, is that they are simply about giving thanks. We give distinctions, we celebrate, and we commemorate, by giving thanks. Wreaths, parades, and parties are about giving thanks. Thanks to those that have died for our freedoms. Thanks for those who put in the work to make our installation a better place. Thanks to those mothers who made us become better adults, or those spouses that shape our kids into better kids or that make our lives complete.

According to my research, every day is a day to celebrate. More appropriately, every day is a day to give thanks. So give thanks for a worthy cause today. Lay flowers on that gravestone, make that phone call to a loved one, or preserve a bit of Holloman's history for its 71st birthday celebration. Give thanks with friends, or do it when no one is looking. If tomorrow is the first day you start, you'll have a lot of catching up to do...there are 181 more worthy causes in May alone that deserve your thanks.