Reflecting On Memorial Day

Our Military Appreciation Month Bike Photographer Shares What It Means To Him.

In honor of Memorial Day, we're proud to share a reflection from CJ Graglia, former U.S. Navy. We called on CJ to capture images of our Military Appreciation Month bike, the latest in the Culture Collection. CJ honored the design by Nike's Jason Cochran (U.S. Marine Corps) with beautiful photography, including images with fellow Navy Vet and City Council member Jo Ann Hardesty.

For those of us from BIKETOWN who have not served in the military, the process of developing and releasing this bike design was humbling and eye-opening. We are grateful to the veterans who worked with us along the way to craft the design and its symbols, and to educate us about the meaning and pride behind them. We hope this same spirit of honor and curiosity carries through to all who ride these bikes.

We asked CJ what Memorial Day means to him, in his own words. He graciously provided this reflection below.

"Strike two bells for those on eternal patrol –

I sat on the sail of a submarine surfaced near the Soya Strait; young in life and very young in my career. Awe struck by the orange and purple tones of a sunrise you can only experience atop an endless ocean. A voice comes over the 1MC loudspeaker, “11 October 1943, missing on her 7th war patrol, USS Wahoo (SS-238) was sunk from anti-submarine aircraft returning home from patrol in the Sea of Japan. All souls lost”.

*2 rings of the ship’s bell.

All souls lost.

This was a common occurrence as we made our way around the South Pacific; passing the last known coordinates or the found wreckage of a submarine. Something said about the ship and her crew. 2 rings of the bell. 52 submarines were lost in the very waters we were steaming almost 60 years after the conclusion of World War II. A lot had changed since the days of the porpoise, S, Sargo, and Gato-class submarines. Technology, global tensions, and the very reasons young Submariners like myself joined.

Gone were the days of ship-rattling depth charges, devastating battles, and the 50% probability you would not be coming home. Gone were the men and women whom joined because of an innate duty to service over self, we were now joining for college, to see the world, or to get out of the small towns in which we were raised.

It became impossible to ignore that where we have come; good, bad, or indifferent is because of those that gave their very lives in belief of a greater good. The submarines and their crews whom cast off their mooring lines during World War II hold a special place in my heart. Daily battling against the sea which was out to kill them just the same as their enemies. The very nature of a submerged vessel is perilous. If not for their endurance, the war and the ending result would be markedly different.

As Memorial Day approaches from the horizon I reflect on those that gave their lives in service to our country. While the reasons for a Veteran’s service is different than those of World War II and the global landscape is greatly changed it does not take away the sacrifice these humans gave. Sacrifices both past and present. A service member’s connection with their service is not as simple it appears. The reason for their service is as unique as the person whom dons a uniform each day. Their fight is no longer for some grand cause but for the men and women at their side.

Lest we forget those at home, greeted by telegram or members in uniform, delivered to them the worst kind of news. This day is especially difficult for them, they have been forced to sacrifice without choice. No matter the cause or your personal view on military service, Americans have died during their service. Some joined because of Pearl Harbor, some because of a family history of military service, and some joined because they needed to pay for college. Death does not concern itself with these things.

Memorial Day is about the folded flags passed to weeping families. The men and women struck down fighting for those at their side. The children sent home to parents in wooden boxes. And those not with us who might otherwise be if not for war. While we may not always agree with the cause we must never forget that all gave some while some gave all."

former MMC(SS/SW) CJ Graglia