The Memorial Day weekend has its roots in commemorating those who gave their lives while serving their country in the armed service—beginning with the soldiers who died on both sides of the conflict in the Civil War. Over the years we have created dozens of ways of making the day distinctive and meaningful—and this year was no exception.

There is no single ceremony that adequately explains Memorial Day’s importance. From the President laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier (just back from his surprise trip to Afghanistan to greet American troops), to the flags that suddenly blossom on so many homes, to the rumble of “Rolling Thunder” through the streets of Washington—Memorial Day is an opportunity to both remember and honor, but also to celebrate the daily life we live that those who sacrificed their own lives helped guarantee.

Perhaps the greatest tribute to those who have died serving their country is that on Tuesday morning we came back to work. Ultimately, the sacrifice we honor on Memorial Day was not so that we can have parades or picnics, but that we can keep building America, that we create strength and greatness for generations to come. The best way to honor the fallen is to do something excellent and valuable with our lives. To use our lives in service, just as they have given their lives in sacrifice. That’s what life is all about.

There are so many people on our Adventist HealthCare team for whom Memorial Day has deeply personal value, as they recall those friends and family members who died serving our country. Many of our team members have family who are serving in the armed forces. And those veterans who bring commitment, experience, and passion to their work for Adventist HealthCare bless us each day.

Take for instance Air Force Veteran Sgt. Romel Rodriguez (retired). In the Air Force he was a Communications Specialist, and he served both overseas and domestically. At Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, he’s the daytime Security Supervisor—and he spends his time making sure our patients and staff are kept safe.

As a veteran, he understands the significance of Memorial Day as a remembrance of the ultimate sacrifice. As an Adventist HealthCare employee, he understands that Memorial Day means that we have the opportunity each day to serve with excellence and distinction.

Mr. Rodriguez’s presence each day (we don’t call him Sergeant) helps reminds us of the importance of a country willing to defend its citizens, just as Memorial Day reminds us that our freedoms are costly. What a privilege to live in a land of freedom—and to know that our own service is part of what makes our country great.