For our veterans- especially those who have lost family or friends- every day is Memorial Day.
That was the message of Shawn Alderman, the guest speaker at the 2022 Monticello Memorial Day celebration.
Alderman, founder of the Magnus Veterans Foundation based in Dayton, recalled how moved a friend became on a visit to Australia where their war heroes were being honored.
“The entire nation stopped for a moment of silence to remember and honor their fallen,” Alderman recalled his friend saying.
Alderman’s friend was deeply moved by the action of the Australians, he said.
He felt connected to those who lived that moment around him. He experienced first hand the feeling power of togetherness,” Alderman said.
Alderman spent 31 years in the Army as a special forces soldier and medic. During his last years in the service, he participated in an initiative to help special forces in the Middle East in more holistic way that incorporated physical and mental health with social and spiritual practices.
Which brought us to the Magnus Foundation.
After he retired, Alderman wanted to create a similar program for veterans and their families. On land donated by his aunt, this first-of-its-kind wellness campus is free of charge to its members.
At the Magnus Foundation, the belief is that the stories of our veterans unite and heal us all, Alderman said.
Alderman noted that he learned from his mentor, Dr. Edward Tick, a world-renowned psychotherapist, that “True healing happens when we all shoulder the story instead of just the veteran and the veteran’s family.”
“That story connects us soul to soul and helps to begin to heal our heart, body, mind, and spirit,” he said.
Alderman says he sees the healing power every day at Magnus when the member of a Gold Star family embraces a veteran or the family of a veteran; when an older veteran embraces a young veteran; and when an entire community comes out to embrace all veterans and their families.
“You only need to visit our campus to experience that energy,” Alderman said.
Alderman then shared an excerpt of a journal he shared with his son while deployed in Afghanistan 12 years ago. The journal entry detailed the death of a fellow soldier who died at the hands of a roadside bomb.
The 40-year-old soldier had a wife and children. He was well liked by his team of soldiers. He was the kind of man who would give the shirt off his back. Alderman said he knew this man, Mark, well. When Mark’s remains were returned to his team, tears ran down the cheeks of each and every one of those soldiers.
“He was a good man. He was a brave man,” Alderman said.
Alderman said he was a man whom he loved.
Alderman encouraged those in the Monticello Performing Arts Center to take Mark’s story and share it with others.
“Talk about him and everyone who sacrificed everything so we can gather once again to honor and heal lest we forget,” he said.
“God bless our fallen. God bless our Gold Star families, and God bless our great nation,” Alderman said in closing.
Reach Jeff Hage at email@example.com