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Memorial Day: Reasons to Remember


Memorial Day is an important time to reflect and give thanks to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.


I have the privilege of working with our Southwest Airlines Military Ambassadors. They are peer-to-peer mentors to our service members, veterans, and military spouses, and they are dedicated to creating an inclusive Culture where those who have served or are currently serving can thrive within Southwest Airlines. To learn what Memorial Day means to each of them, I asked our Military Ambassadors to share their perspectives.


  • “Memorial Day has always had a deep meaning for me. I wouldn’t have been able to join the military and serve if not for the men and women who’ve dedicated and sacrificed their life’s work and lives. When I was on active duty, we observed it with military fanfare. Since I’ve retired, I usually get with the base in Fort Worth to see what they are doing. I know many families use it as a weekend for getting together, but our family does not celebrate Memorial Day. I am the only one in my family who has served, but I have lost a few close friends while serving and, sadly, a few more since I’ve retired.” –Jeni Centeno, Senior Learning Producer, SWA U


  • “I was fortunate to only have ‘known of’ fellow members making the ultimate sacrifice during their service and not having to endure the loss of a close friend or family member. I am part of the generations of my family members who have served from uncles, fathers-in-laws, sons, daughters, nephews, and husbands. To this day, we all have so much to be thankful for because of those that served and died for our country.


Our freedoms continue today because of those that loved our country and us. Even today, with all the upheaval surrounding us, there are our military brothers and sisters continuing to protect us.


For all the wars and conflicts behind us, are great ‘warriors’ that fought for our freedom. As that fight continues today, we will suffer more losses and can only pray the freedoms we live by will continue because these great men and women gave all.


So for us, Memorial Day is a day when our family talks about the history and about those that fought while serving. We hope that sharing about all these wars will help the next generation understand the losses made so you can live a life of freedom. We do not want our young ones to forget where all this came from and at such a high cost.


It’s our day to pray for those we lost in the military and thank them for the freedoms we live with, today.” –Jackie Widacki, Supervisor Inflight Standards Audit, Inflight


  • “Memorial Day is a time to remember the ones who paid the ultimate price. I observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries where we laid our friends to rest and visiting friends that you’ve served with and remembering good times.” –Juan Milo, Instructor, SWA U


  • “I remember waiting in a parking lot outside of my car shortly after returning from Desert Shield/Desert Storm and a gentleman wearing a Vietnam Veteran hat came up to me. He saw that I was wearing my USS San Jacinto ball cap and he asked ‘Sailor, did you just come back from over there (Iraq)?’ I responded, ‘Yes sir!’ He shook my hand and thanked me for my service. I, in turn, thanked him for his sacrifices. We talked and he told me about when he returned from Vietnam and how badly he was treated. How badly they were all treated. Since that day, I’ve taken on a higher level of gratitude for men and women who gave me a better life as a civilian and as a sailor. Memorial Day, to me, is thanking and remembering those before me who laid the groundwork of what it meant to sacrifice and serve The United States of America. I’m humbled to have benefitted from all our military brothers’ and sisters’ sacrifices.


Each year, I ride my bike over 20 miles from my house to the Memorial Day event at the Albuquerque, NM Veterans Memorial to remind myself of those sacrifices and to remember. I have not lost a family member personally but the loss of one military member in service to our country is still a loss to my bigger family.” –Jose Cruz, DEN Flight Attendant


  • “To me, Memorial Day is a day of reflection. It is an opportunity to reflect on the many servicemen and women who have lost their lives in honor of our country. I also take the time to reflect on the many service members who may have detrimental injuries, both visible and invisible. 


I generally don’t make any specific plans for Memorial Day. Throughout the day, I have several moments of silence and reflection. 


I have never lost a ‘loved one’ while they were serving, however, we lost several of our fellow service members during my time in Iraq which had a huge impact on me.” –Ro Thomas, Supervisor Inflight Standards Audit, Inflight


  • “Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women who have died while serving their country, particularly those who died in battle. I’m very fortunate to be able to say that I have not personally lost a loved one while they were serving in the armed forces.


To observe Memorial Day, my husband and I participate in the annual Memorial Day 5K/10K in Houston.” –Caren Eaton, Assistant Manager Base Operations, Inflight


No matter what your plans are this Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms.