A Meaningful Memorial Day


Established in 1868 to commemorate those who died in the Civil War, Memorial Day is now a time for us to remember all Americans who have died in military service. I spoke with ROTC Captain Jeff Timmons about his take on the holiday and ways to honor those who fought for our country.

MAM: What does Memorial Day mean to you?

Capt. Timmons: I remember when I was growing up, Memorial Day was a day you would get off of school and go have a picnic. I think it’s good to relax, but it’s important that society as a whole remember what our soldiers have done for us. People have sacrificed to make our country great, and we benefit from that every day. Remembering them shows our gratitude.

MAM: How do you honor these sacrifices?

Timmons: I like to go to the Memorial Hall in the BYU Wilkinson Center. There are a few names that I know on those walls. One of them was a friend of mine—Scott Pace. He died 6 June 2012. He was in Afghanistan and died while flying a helicopter. Before that we were deployed to Iraq together. I think a big part of having gratitude is learning about those who fought and sharing their stories. My son is only six years old, but he knows who Scott Pace is. I tell him that he was a soldier just like daddy, but he didn’t make it home. Scott ended up dying for what he thought was right. On the anniversary of his death I buy flowers and put them by the wall.

MAM: How do you recommend others celebrate Memorial Day?

Timmons: I’m a veteran, but I’m not very old—I’m only thirty-three. To me, it’s okay to go waterskiing, go rock climbing, or have a picnic, but don’t forget why you can enjoy these activities. It’s not the wars themselves but the people in them that are important. They are the reason behind Memorial Day. 

To make this Memorial Day a meaningful one, Captain Timmons suggests adding one of these activities to your holiday.

  • Volunteer at a Veterans Organization

“Any form of service that you perform can be a way to remember fallen soldiers if you do it in their memory.”

Veteran’s Affairs and the American Legion have locations in Utah and throughout the United States where you can serve veterans.

  • Visit BYU’s Memorial Hall 

“The names there go back to World War I. It’s powerful to see.”

Built as an addition to the Wilkinson Center in 1967, the Memorial Hall (2099 WSC) houses plaques etched with the names of BYU students and alumni who gave their lives in battle.

  • Check Out the Saints at War Project

“If you’re wondering about soldiers, look this up. You’ll see that they fought, died, lived, and had spiritual experiences just like us.”

Visit the Saints at War website to read the stories of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who fought in military conflicts from 1830 to now.