Memorial Day: Paying It Forward

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A soldier in full combat gear, including a helmet and body armor, stands and faces the camera with a neutral expression. An American flag patch is visible on their uniform.

It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of someone sacrificing their life for their country until you see it first-hand. 

Every morning when I wake up, I look down at my right wrist and see a familiar name and date etched on a faded black bracelet – SPC Wade A. Slack, Maine, U.S. Army, 06 MAY 10 KIA.  

It takes me back to a desolate, dusty combat outpost in Eastern Afghanistan, where I had the honor of leading more than 100 U.S. and Afghan soldiers under the most austere of conditions. 

Since that fateful day, I have strived to live a life worthy of the sacrifice that Wade Slack and more than 6,000 U.S. service members have made since 9/11 by remembering the 3 P’s below. 

  1. Perspective: try to put day-to-day challenges in their proper place, or, as General Colin Powell stated in his famous 13 rules, “It ain’t as bad as you think! It will look better in the morning.”
  2. Purpose: life is fleeting; squeeze every ounce out of each day.
  3. Pay it forward: be grateful that we live in a country where young adults, who have a full life in front of them, are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so their fellow citizens can live in freedom. Pay it forward, however you can, to honor those sacrifices.  

As my two young sons get older, I will tell them about the selflessness of fallen heroes who never came home. I will encourage them to join mission-driven organizations. And I will remind them that the best way to honor the fallen is to find a way to pay it forward. 

About the Author

Alexander Haig is the Vice President of Public Sector at DailyPay. He served in the U.S. Army from 2006-11, including multiple deployments to Afghanistan as an Infantry Officer with the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade.

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