A Memorial Day tribute
We all look forward to Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial beginning of summer, promising time with family and friends, socializing at picnics and cookouts and a three-day weekend.
But it’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the holiday.
Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.
This weekend, the General Mills Veterans Network wanted to give company employees an opportunity to memorialize friends and family members who gave their lives in our country’s defense. So we asked them to share their stories.
The response was tremendous.
We received over fifty submissions and shared this tribute on monitors at our headquarters throughout many of our plants.
So we’d like to share it with you.
This project has been a moving experience – and a concept that we will build on in the future.
A small gesture to memorialize the friends and family members of employees who gave their lives in our country’s defense is the least we can do for Memorial Day.
One story I’d particularly like to highlight came from Thadis Hague, an employee from our Global Business Solutions Data Center Operations.
He shared this about his father, U.S. Army Private First Class Gerald Hague:
Gerald (Jerry) Hague was born at the family farm on the bluffs that overlook Lake Pepin, in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, on May 21, 1945. In the summer of 1966, he joined the Army and volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam. His family was ambivalent and emotionally advised him to stay home and help tend the farm. Jerry was adamant that his country needed him and was known to reply, “If not me, who?”
After nearly a year in the jungles of Vietnam his letters tell the story. Countless bloody firefights during the North Vietnamese build-up to the Tet Offensive. Every day he recounts the horror, terror, and loss of life in the muck and mire on the other side of the world.
Having earned two valorous Bronze Stars and a Navy and Marine Corps Citation, he was shot in the chest on May 18, 1967, with only 57 days left in his tour. He died in a field hospital on his birthday three days later.
His name is etched on multiple memorials and his picture hangs in the VFW of his hometown. It is important to note that among his family and friends, he is best remembered as a fun-loving farm boy who liked to spend his days in the field and working the horses.
The General Mills Veterans Network launched on Veterans Day 2012 as part of a ceremony in which Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton visited, to proclaim General Mills a Beyond The Yellow Ribbon company.
In short, the Yellow Ribbon designation acknowledged the company as a veteran-friendly employer with programs and policies supportive of veteran employees and veterans causes in the community.
Our employee network has a mission to strengthen General Mills by creating opportunities for employees to support, attract and retain the unique skills and experiences of America’s Veterans.
Editor’s note: Jeff served five years as infantry officer in the U.S. Army and is a graduate of the United States Military Academy. He deployed to Somalia and Haiti with the 10th Mountain Division. Jeff’s grandfather, Sterling, served in World War II and an uncle, Dom, served in Korea.