Memorial Day – Remembering while we “Bring the Future Faster”

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Amanda Ley
  • 2d Weather Group

“Memorial Day serves as a specific day to remember our brothers and sisters [in arms] who made the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ to protect and defend our nation and our way of life,” said Lt. Col. Trevin Murray, 2d Weather Support Squadron commander. “If it hadn’t been for them, we would not have many of the freedoms and opportunities we have today.”

Murray grew up in Yemassee, South Carolina, which is approximately an hour from Charleston – where some of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations took place. The tradition of visiting fallen loved ones originated immediately following the Civil War.

To date, the Civil War claimed more lives than any other war the United States has been involved in.  The loss of life was so great that it forced the establishment of National Cemeteries across the country. It was at these cemeteries that families would gather to honor their fallen by reciting prayers and decorating the graves with flowers.

In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events. Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971. 

Murray has more than hometown ties to Memorial Day. His father and uncle both served in the U.S. Army.

“My father was a Vietnam Veteran,” Murray said. “He was an Airborne Infantryman and served in the 82d Airborne as well as the 101st Airborne Divisions and was a huge reason I decided to join the military.”

Murray always knew he wanted to join the military and there was a lot of Army influence in his family, but he stated firmly “There’s only one branch of the military for me, and it’s the Air Force.”

Perhaps his Air Force pride comes from his family’s emphasis on education.

“One thing my great grandmother always stressed to us growing up was the value of education,” Murray said.

Murray grew up with his great grandmother, who was born on a plantation a mere 40 years after the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished. Her experiences gave Murray his appreciation for work ethic and education.

“My great grandma always said education is one thing that once you have it, no one can ever take it away from you,” Murray said. “It’s the key to success in life, a good education.”

At the age of 17, Murray applied for the Air Force’s delayed entry program. One week after his 18th birthday, he completed basic training and was a Vehicle Maintenance Technician in the U.S. Air Force. Murray’s hard work and unrelenting focus on education enabled him to pursue his commission. He worked full-time, went to school full-time, and had a part-time job.

As a technical sergeant, when he was within a year of obtaining his degree, Murray was selected for a commissioning program that allowed him to complete his Bachelors of Science in Computer Information Systems Management. Ultimately, the same hard work, drive, and determination lead him to become the first Cyber Officer Squadron Commander in the 557th Weather Wing. Murray joined the trailblazers that he admires every Memorial Day.

“I take the chance to reflect on the service men and women before me who ‘paved the way’, and I think about how challenging it must have been…but they never gave up…and we shall never forget,” said Murray.

As the Air Force moves into the future, hard-working leaders who are not afraid to “be the first” become essential to our nation’s success. This Memorial Day, as we remember our fallen brothers and sisters, let us also honor them by continuing to charge forward. When we learn from the past while bringing the future faster, we ensure that no sacrifice was made in vain.

(Senior Airman Dalton Gault contributed to this article. Historical information regarding Memorial Day was verified on