THE COUNSELOR'S CORNER: Dedication to serve others

 By Fred Cavaiani

We just celebrated Memorial Day.  We remembered all those who have died in battle defending our Country.  Each of us has reflected on men and women we know who are in uniform dedicated to protecting the United States of America.  Days like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day enkindle thoughts of idealism and dedication.  Seeing a woman or man in a uniform can bring tears of admiration and gratitude.

I am always inspired when I see uniformed men and women marching proudly in a parade. Attending a military funeral can be a profound experience. 

The genius of our country is that it  has captured the essence of symbolizing dedication, honor, compassion and bravery.  This is why our military wears uniforms.  It shouts clearly of a dedication to serve others. The uniform reminds the person wearing it and the people seeing it what it stands for – to protect others, to help others be safe.

Each year at this time we have parades, bands, inspiring speeches and energizing music to honor our soldiers who died for us.  This inspires us.  It brings memories of the past to our mind. 

In each country a military is founded to protect and serve others.  This is the ideal and purpose.  Individual people may not always come up to that ideal, but the ideal still remains.  The purpose of the military is also to symbolize and remind us of our basic foundations – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The uniformed military are a constant symbol of what is most precious: freedom to love and live without imprisonment of values and the freedom to have a way of life that shows respect and compassion toward others.  It is what the Founders of our Constitution wanted to leave with us.

We live on this planet for a few short years.  In this span of life we have many experiences: marriage, parenthood, work, fellowship, spiritual and emotional connections, vacations and fun experiences, and many different forms of community.   Then we are done.  What do we leave behind?  We go to another mode of existence but what we do we leave with those who are not yet making this new journey with us? 

Each Memorial Day I am reminded what I want to leave behind:  A sense of dedication and compassion for everyone.  I want to leave the world a better place for my having lived here.  I want my life to stand for something: a dedication to something bigger than myself.  When I see a military person dressed in their uniform I am reminded of something bigger. I am reminded of a dedication and ideal that has been present for years before I have ever existed and will last for years after I have passed from this world to another place.  Again, this dedication to protect and serve is how I want to be remembered. I want people to realize that my purpose on this earth was to protect and serve my fellow traveler.  I want others to remember that my purpose in life was to bring love and compassion to everyone and that I would be willing to lay down my life for this purpose.  

The more we study the history of our country and the more we study the history of religions, the more we discover the idealism and pure ideals that have been present from the beginning.  But as we see this idealism and dedication to protect, care and be compassionate toward others camaflouged in rationalizations and false conclusions, the more the original idealism can be lost.  We need symbols to remind us of this original idealism. 

Most countries and most religions have had profound symbols from the beginning which represented the highest ideals and goals.  When these symbols are lost through carelessness and neglect and rationalizations, the journey can become very dissipated and distracted. 

Pay attention to the symbols in your life.  There are so many symbols that challenge us to return to our ideals. Listen to the messages.  Listen to the symbols.  Listen to the stirrings in your heart.  It will lead you into a compassionate, reflective and dedicated place.  You will realize that we are all called to be dedicated to serving others.  


Fred Cavaiani is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Psychologist with a private practice in Troy.  He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and Henry Ford Medical Center. Fred serves on the Oakland County Senior Advisory Council. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other week.  He can be reached at 248-362-3340.  His e-mail address is: and his website is


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