To Absent Friends

Monday is a special day. For one thing, it is the eighth anniversary of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) publishing of advisory opinions 2012-03A and 2012-04A, governing open MEPs . A big day for the MEP world, when the DOL threw a wet blanket on the open MEP party. And here we are, eight years later, with PEPs  and GOPs  and ARPs  and whatnot, and a new party about to begin. That DOL guidance was published late Friday afternoon before the Memorial Day weekend in 2012.

But Monday is mainly special because it is about our honored dead. It is worth remembering the roots of the holiday—it originated during or shortly after the Civil War, during which at least 2% of the population died, which would be like losing 7 million today. We celebrate it in honor of those who died in military service, but there are many ways to serve.

Memorial Day has additional meaning in 2020 because so many are fighting, in so many ways. My daughter’s boyfriend is a nurse, and he quit his job, packed up his gear, and volunteered to go serve in an intensive care ward for COVID-19 patients in New York. To me, his choice is the same as that of a U.S. Marine going to war. He saw where his duty was, and he went. I salute you, Kevin. Stay well. Others like him have served on the front lines around the world in 2020, and many have fallen. More will.

Service gives us perspective. Only 10% of the adult population in the U.S. has served in the military, but many millions have served in Americorps, the Peace Corps, the United Nations Refugee Agency, and thousands of other service roles and professions. All that is required for it to be “service” versus just a job is that the primary point needs to be something other than ourselves. I think of Memorial Day as a day to honor all those who died in service, anywhere.

On Monday, my honored dead will include:

  • Healthcare workers who died helping the sick
  • Aid workers who died giving aid
  • Anyone in the world who died fighting the good fight

Let’s pray that those who fight for us today will win the fight and come home safe. And for those who have gone before, let’s raise a glass to absent friends and press on.

Pete Swisher is a pension consultant and former Marine. He can be reached at

Proud to Be an American

When I was fresh out of the Marines in the 1990s, I thought President Clinton should resign...