Memorial Day may be the unofficial kick-off to summer, but it is much more than just a long weekend for gatherings and grilling. Memorial Day is a sacred time to honor and remember the brave, fallen heroes of the United States military. In addition to their bravery, among these warriors are those who made significant contributions in shaping the health and wellness advances that benefit so many of us. Here are just a few notable individuals who have left a lasting impact, and whom we can celebrate this Memorial Day –

Walter Reed: Dr. Walter Reed was a U.S. Army physician whose name may ring a bell. While he was on the front lines in understanding and combating yellow fever during the Spanish-American War, his research led to monumental advancements in public health and disease prevention. He even has a Veteran’s hospital named after him and his achievements. Today, according to their website, over 3,000 soldiers work at the medical facility and offer care to more than one million beneficiaries each year.

Clara Barton: Known as the “Angel of the Battlefield,” Clara Barton was a nurse ahead of her time, and she founded something you have likely heard of: The American Red Cross. Clara cared for soldiers during the Civil War and would later work to improve healthcare services for all Americans, and even us today! According to  the Red Cross will help no less than 20,000 people in one day, over 200 million people outside of the US each year, in addition to being a leader in CPR and AED training and blood donations worldwide.

Audie Murphy: Audie Murphy was a game changer for soldiers and civilians alike with his willingness to speak openly about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Audie was also one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II, but this didn’t stop him from raising awareness about mental health issues among Veterans. In his obituary, on https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mi/#/ we learn that Audie was a braver man than most from the beginning, even falsifying his documents so he could join the military early, before his 18th birthday.

Yet, when he returned to a “hero’s welcome,” his photograph appeared on the cover of Life magazine! He went on to make more than 40 films, which is what offered him such a spotlight and opportunity to share about his PTSD. Sadly, he died in a plane crash before his 47th birthday.

When we think of our service people and their sacrifices, we may forget that they were people like us! They had all sorts of skills and careers, many with talents that developed into groundbreaking advancements that superseded not only their lives but lived on for decades and decades to have lasting impacts on public health worldwide.

We would do well this Memorial Day to remember these individuals, among many others. May we honor their bravery, generosity, and willingness to exemplify service. Memorial Day is for remembrance, this year we remember the contributions that have shaped and continue to shape the health and wellness of all Americans. May we all remember.


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center