Photo via Wikimedia Commons

In 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic created Decoration Day to honor the soldiers who died in the U.S. Civil War. Since then, the day has evolved into Memorial Day, a national holiday celebrated on the last Monday of May each year.

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Photo via U.S. Navy

In 2014, my younger brother, also a combat veteran, died in a motorbike accident in Thailand. All our lives, we had been fiercely protective and loyal toward each other. I had served with the Army Reserves as a civil affairs officer in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. After I separated from the military in 2007, struggling with anxiety from war, he joined. I provided guidance from the states while he was in Iraq. When he came home in 2010, I thought the big worries of my life were over; that if I stuck to my plan, life would all work out. But when he died, my life ended, too. When he died, I needed to build a new life, or I would have become mired in grief permanently. I moved abroad to Australia.

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