Make Memorial Day Personal

Memorial Day advice is plentiful this weekend, so I’ll get right to the point: make today personal.

There will be plenty of solemn events and platitudes shared by politicians about service today, but I challenge you to keep it low key and learn about the life of someone in your neighborhood who died in combat.

I found Nikolaus Zozula. I pass his name on a commemorative sign every morning as I walk my dog or send out a piece of mail. It bothered me that the square in my new Roslindale neighborhood was named after someone I didn’t know anything about. It happens that Nikolaus grew up down the street. There’s a tiny wreath that just appeared at the base of the sign – I wonder if it isn’t a family member or an old neighborhood friend who put it there.

Nikolaus was born in a camp in West Germany established for Holocaust survivors in 1945. He later immigrated to Boston at age 8 and went on to thrive, eventually majoring in history and graduating from Boston University in 1968. Nikolaus deployed to Vietnam within a year and was killed in a rocket attack 7-months later.

Loss is personal. For many of us without a connection to someone serving in the military, that loss seems abstract – I challenge you to make it tangible. Take a few minutes out of your day today to connect with someone you know who has lost someone in combat – even if only to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Don’t know someone? There are hundreds of memorial squares like the one in my neighborhood across the city. Find one. Connect with the human story behind it.