Here on Lumenatti, my colleagues and I spend a lot of time talking about community – how it’s defined and structured, how community members are encouraged to engage with their hosts (brands) and each other, and how to measure the impact of those communities. On the heels of Memorial Day weekend, I’d like to reflect on a different kind of community – the men and women who serve.

Community defined. This broad military community comprises many segments or ‘sub-communities’ defined by branch, by rank, by when they served (WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq/Afghanistan), by location/base, by battalion, ship, or troop. This community also includes the families and friends of those servicemen and women. While a diverse group, they all share a common mission. As General John Allen remarked yesterday, they “gladly accept the timeless values of generations of soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coastguardsmen – Freedom, Duty, Selflessness and Sacrifice.”

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Memorial Day Service in Glen Ellyn, IL

Meaningful engagement. Across the country, citizens honored those who had fallen in service to their country. Debbie Lee says her son, Marc Allen Lee, the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq (Aug 2006) taught her the real meaning of the holiday. She says, “The way he lived his life and the value he placed on others’ lives, caused him to sacrifice his life defending his teammates and our freedoms.”

In a call to ‘reclaim Memorial Day’, she suggests, “Take a carload of friends and family to a National Cemetery and decorate the graves and remember the sacrifice of a hero and their family. Thank the family members of those you know who lost a loved one in combat. Take a Gold Star family to lunch, coffee, dinner and ask them about their hero. Do something to let them know you have not forgotten the sacrifice and understand the high price that has been paid for our freedoms. Read a story of a fallen hero, watch a memorial video, then pass it on to those whose lives you have influence on.” Good advice and something to pass on to our kids. A Huffington Post photo gallery captured a number of those poignant moments this weekend.

Impact: priceless. You’ve heard it time and again, freedom isn’t free. More than 600,000 U.S. military personnel paid the ultimate sacrifice since WWI, two-thirds of them in WWII alone; the Greatest Generation indeed. Lives saved – countless. Freedom preserved – priceless.

Who better to explain how they see the impact of their sacrifice than one of the fallen. In a letter to his family to be read in the event of his death, 23-year old US Marine Sergeant William Stacey, who was killed in action in Afghanistan, wrote:

“There will be a child who will live because men left the security they enjoyed in their home to come to his. He will have the gift of freedom which I have enjoyed for so long myself, and if my life brings the safety of a child who will one day change the world, then I know that was all worth it.”

Thank you, Sergeant.

Cheryl Treleaven
Cheryl Treleaven

Principal

Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.