Military families share Memorial Day celebrations


Image used with permission from Paige Bringas

Then-4-year-old sophomore Paige Bringas stands with her mom, waving the flag toward an arriving military vehicle during a 2010 Memorial Day parade.

Sophomore Paige Bringas and her family have been watching the live stream of the Washington D.C Memorial Day parade through her cable TV network ever since her family saw it live in 2010. 

“We initially watched the parades in order to adapt from Filipino Culture to American culture and understand it a little bit better,” Bringas said. “After my brother enlisted in the Marines, we now watch it to honor those serving and can relate to what people are saying in their speeches.” 

Twenty five year old Sergeant Patrick Bringas is stationed at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego.

Although the Bringas family has no one else in the military, the sophomore said she has considered the dangers that come along with military service. 

“My 10 year old self always viewed the military with this hardcore war fighting mentality,” the sophomore said. “But the more my brother started updating and writing to us I felt more at ease with his service.” 

In fact, the student has come to appreciate not only the value of the United States remembering the lives lost in service to the country, but also America’s other military-related holiday.

“I find that Memorial Day and Veterans Day is a really nice time to gather together with family,” she said. “Even to those who do not have relatives in the military, these holidays provide a great acknowledgment toward those who sacrificed a lot for the freedom America has.”

Even to those who do not have relatives in the military, these holidays provide a great acknowledgment toward those who sacrificed a lot for the freedom America has.”

— Paige Bringas

Junior Kylie Money, who has a 29 year old brother serving in the Maxwell Air Force base in Montgomery, Alabama, also has had to come to grips with the cost of military service.

“I feel anxious because who wouldn’t be, especially knowing that their own family member’s life is on the line every day,” Money said. “However, I am also very grateful that I get to say that I have a brother who is sacrificing his life for millions of Americans here in the U.S.”

Money said her brother, Casey Money, enlisted when she was a 14 year old freshman. 

Since then, she said she treats Memorial Day as a time to talk and catch up with her brother through call and hopes to send him a gift box with his favorite snacks that he’s been missing.  

“I did not really think of [Memorial Day] as an important holiday, just one that I could look forward to skipping school for,” the junior said. “But, after my brother enlisted, I realized the importance of those who serve in the military.” 

For sophomore Stephen Buncio’s family, the holiday is dedicated to visiting museums that honor the military. Since Buncio’s grandfather, Vincent Santos, received an honorable discharge from naval bases in San Diego and North Island, Buncio said he and his family have visited exhibits like the Battleship U.S.S Iowa Museum in Los Angeles and the U.S.S Midway Museum in San Diego for fifteen years. 

“I remember going to the museums and thinking, ‘This is pretty cool — I want to become an officer,’” he said.

Senior Sharon Kim’s 20 year old brother, Samuel Kim, serves his fourth year in an army base in Georgia. 

Kim said she hopes more of her peers who don’t have any military in their family will take the upcoming holiday more seriously.

“I feel like these days people look down on the military,” she said, treating Memorial Day as a time  to commemorate those serving. “But they don’t understand the amount of work they need to do and the amount of physical training and mental strain they go through.” 

They don’t understand the amount of work they need to do and the amount of physical training and mental strain they go through.”

— Sharon Kim

Freshman Chloe Aeum also offers insight into the hardships that come with having a family member in the military. With her mom, Judy Aeum, serving in the army as a pathologist since 1999, Aeum said she has lived in multiple military bases, including ones in South Korea and Hawaii.

“The longest I’ve lived somewhere was only about five years, and I’m always moving schools and finding new homes and new friends,” Chloe Aeum said. “It’s really difficult, and emotionally, I think it’s really hard especially when you’re young, and I had to do it since I was born.” 

Settling in California in 2022, Chloe Aeum does not currently live in a military base, but she remembers celebrating Memorial Day with parties and events held in past stations. These events typically consisted of assemblies where students on base, as well as veterans, would share a few words. 

“I think the speeches really made me realize the difficulties and challenges people in the military and their families go through,” the freshman said. “I learned to really respect my mom and her job.” 

Currently stationed at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, the mother’s job consists mostly of examining slides, working on patient care and finding cancerous tumors in tissue — typically of retired military personnel — while still keeping up with the physical requirements to serve.

Today, slowly approaching her 50s and planning to retire next summer, the freshman’s mom stresses the importance of appreciating and honoring the lives laid down for the country. 

“Beyond just getting the day off, Memorial Day and Veterans Day is a good chance for people to remember those that sacrificed themselves,” she said. “Some people just use it as a chance to take a break, which is fine too, but others do truly appreciate those who made those sacrifices.”