Memorial Day. It’s one of the most celebrated U.S. holidays, yet it can be a somber day for many.  This special day honors those who have given their lives fighting for our country. And for those who have lost a loved one due to their service, today their sorrow is amplified.

Each Memorial Day, I think back to a moment almost 13 years ago when my life took a pivotal turn.

I was a Special Forces A-Team Commander embarking on a mission which turned into the most difficult day of my life. An instant explosion of a 400-pound bomb cost the lives of four of my men – SFC Bradley S. Bohle, SFC Shawn P. McCloskey, SSG Joshua M. Mills, and our Afghan interpreter, Razul. These men were sons, brothers, fathers and husbands, and they all lost their lives serving their country honorably. Their families experienced the toughest loss a loved one can endure, and they will never be forgotten.

After the attack, grief and depression took root and every day became a challenge until one day it hit me. I needed to look tragedy in the face and rise above it. I could not change what happened, but I could change how it impacted my life moving forward.

It became my duty to honor them the best way I knew how — living the best life I possibly could. The epiphany I had is one that I encourage all of you to follow this Memorial Day, regardless of whether you’ve experienced personal loss or not.

How to honor the fallen 

The greatest way to appreciate fallen soldiers is to show a life of gratitude and pay it forward. So many have given their lives for a purpose greater than themselves — freedom. We truly are blessed to be free to live in a land where when adversity arises, if we charge on regardless of the height of the hill, anything is possible.

Let’s use Memorial Day to not only honor and remember those who are no longer with us, but send ourselves into action to improve our lives, go out there and win, continuing to push forward for those who can’t anymore. Anything less than that is an opportunity missed.

And, to:

Active-duty, veterans, and retired military members: Take today to memorialize the ones we’ve lost and continue to fight with pride and strength. Know that you’re always fighting for a higher purpose – democracy and freedom.

Gold Star families: I want to take this time to give my sincerest condolences for your loss. Your loved ones have given the ultimate sacrifice, and while we can never understand the pain you have gone through, you will always have our utmost appreciation and respect.

All who call this great country home: Let’s be forever grateful for those who go and fight for our continued freedom. Their courage and dedication should continue to inspire us to always live life to the fullest.

Levi Rodgers serves as the Director of KW Military, a robust business and networking community for Keller Williams agents. The mission of KW Military is to honor KW agents’ service and sacrifice by providing the tools, training, and camaraderie necessary to build a big business and an even bigger life. A highly decorated U.S. Army Special Forces Veteran, Rodgers originally enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1996. Rodgers started his real estate career in 2012. In 2016, he founded the Levi Rodgers Real Estate Group.

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