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Saying the Names of the Fallen

Wikimedia Commons / Mario Roverto Duran Ortiz

Saying the Names of the Fallen

Kevin KirkKevin Kirk is currently transitioning out of the United States Navy, where he had the honor of serving from 2009-2015. He will soon be launching Make a, which offers a proper way to honor the legacy of our lost loved ones (and gives their legacy the ability to thrive on a global scale). In honor of Memorial Day, he shared thoughts about how he keeps the legacies of fallen soldiers alive.

Legacy: Who’s one person you think of on Memorial Day?

Kevin: On Memorial Day, I often go back in time to the year 1999. I had the privilege of wrestling a young man named Kevin “Jack” Dempsey from Monroe, Connecticut. We both had shamrock tattoos on our shoulders and our match was often referred to as "The Battle of the Shamrocks." He was a great wrestler and a great young man at the time. He beat me every time we wrestled, yet shook my hand with pure respect after every match.  

A few years later, I was shocked to see in the newspaper that he had been killed in Iraq on Nov. 13, 2004. I was saddened that our country and my beloved State of Connecticut had lost such a brave, noble young man. Years later, during my own military training, I often thought of my wrestling matches with Kevin.

Years later, I lost my brother Ryan Kirk on Dec. 27, 2013. My brother was unique in the fact that he taught me how much you can serve your community and country without ever putting on a military uniform. He was one of the first to volunteer to transport much-needed supplies to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. He was a volunteer shift supervisor at a local homeless shelter, he was a cancer patient advocate, and was passionate about helping those battling addictions. Most importantly to him, he was a proud patriot of our country. On Memorial Day, I also think of him as an inspiration on the little things you can do day to day for this country even if you aren’t in the position to serve in the United States Military. When Ryan passed, his Facebook profile picture was a tribute to the fallen Navy SEALs that we lost in Operation Red Wing on June 28, 2005. [It was] a true expression of his respect for those who have served.

Legacy: How do you wish civilians would honor fallen soldiers on Memorial Day?

Kevin: My favorite way to honor a fallen soldier is very simple. Say his or her name, and share a story about that person. A soldier’s biggest fear isn’t death, it’s being forgotten. By sharing his or her name and their story, you are doing your part to make sure that doesn’t happen. Raise a beer, volunteer, or do an act of kindness in that fallen soldier’s name, let their story continue.

Kirk Kevin can be contacted at [email protected].