This answer comes to us from the Disney movie Coco and the celebration of the tradition of the day of the dead.  The day of the dead is the celebration of the ones who have left this life and moved onto the next.  The multi-day holiday involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died and help support their spiritual journey. In Mexican culture, death is viewed as a natural part of the human cycle. Mexicans see it not as a day of sadness but as a day of celebration because of their loved ones awake and celebrate with them.

Watching the movie Coco with my kids, I connected this idea to Veterans and Active Duty dads who are no longer with us. A dad is only forgotten when his legacy fades way, and his name is no longer remembered. 

What I have learned so far on the Military Veteran Dad podcast is that as Military Veteran Dads, we get hung up trying to make our legacy of our service mean something. 

We far to often don’t see it just as a job, we see it as our identity, we see it as our purpose, we see it as our legacy. 

Then we lose a friend in battle, or maybe a friend sacrificed their life so that we could live so we get hung up on why us? 

It becomes an endless loop of questioning in our head that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight.

We transition out of the military and ultimately lose our self because of what my good friend Chris Hoffman who runs the Ambitious Vet podcast calls going from Superman to Clark Kent. 

It seems our whole world collapses around us because we have our entire self-worth, legacy, and identity tied to the Military. 

So what does this have to do with when is a veteran forgotten?   Everything!

In almost every episode of the podcast, we talk about legacy and what the real legacy of our life is, and that is our family. 

Yes, serving your country is noble, it is rare, it mattered, but it was about protecting our freedoms, not our legacy. 

When we switch from creating a legacy of service to a legacy of our family, we will create memories and bonds that will never let you be forgotten. 

Andy Stumpf, host of the Cleared Hot podcast put this beautifully in a conversation he had with Dakota Meyer.  When we served our effectiveness was limited to the range of our rifle, as a dad the range of our effectiveness could be measured generally in centuries, not yards. 

Our family is the best chance we have to continue to have our name mentioned well beyond the years on this earth. 

If you lost a friend while serving, live a life worthy of there sacrifice, hug your kids two times as much because they no longer get to hug theirs. 

Think about it, how many names can you remember of those who served? Typically, it’s the legends like Chesty Puller, McArthur that live throughout time. 

The movie Coco reminds us of this correctly as it ends with a memorial to his grandfather so that he continues to live on. 

I recently came across a non-profit called 22 Too Many who Kirby Scott from episode 16 made me aware of.  This group enables runners to sponsor a Military Veteran who has died and lets you wear them on your back during a run. 

It enables that person’s name and face to impact others in a way that you never know.  It helps cement the legacy of a person’s life and who they were and who they left behind. 

Going back to the title of this post, a veteran is only forgotten when we longer remember who they were and the impact they made on this world.

Knowing the end is only have the battle.  Right now, if you are reading this, you are still alive, breathing, and able to impact this world. 

Right now, your kids are still near you, they will always look to you for wisdom and guidance through there life. 

Legacy is how we can live a life never gotten, but while we are alive, it is up to us to make that impact.  What you leave behind will be your legacy, and it will take deliberate actions in your life while you are alive to ensure it goes on. 

Our kids are the best chance we have of this coming true. 

My friend Vincent Pugliese author of Freelance to Freedom tells a story in his book that I will never forget.

Billy Graham once said that he has spoken to stadiums of 60,000 people and he would have had a more significant impact on this earth if he would have spent that time with his kids. 

Take that wisdom from a man who lived a lot of years and reflect where your time is best spent. 

Our service is over, we served our country, it happened, its all facts in the history books.  Our next service that doesn’t end till we leave this earth is being a dad.  It is a daily chance to impact this world that never ends. 

It enables us to live a life that is never forgotten.


June 2024