BFW PicMemorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, to honor the soldiers who died fighting the Civil War. Ever since World War I, it evolved to become a day of remembrance for all Americans who lost their lives in service to their country. In 1968, in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees, Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Act which made Memorial Day a federal holiday and also arranged for it to fall on the last Monday in May.

The soldiers being honored on this day are buried in every city, town and village across the nation. In fact, officially there is a National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 PM local time every Memorial Day to honor those fallen heroes.

Today, too many Americans see Memorial Day as just another three-day weekend for picnics, barbeques and family gatherings. But our ability to enjoy these recreational activities and even live in this great country with our freedoms, security and standard of living is in large part due to the sacrifices of these young men and women.

During the past year we have had the privilege of helping disabled vets start their own businesses by sharing the guiding principles for success we learned building the Barefoot Wine brand. During that time we have been inspired by the discipline, dedication to duty, and love of our country these men and woman have demonstrated by their commitment and sacrifice on our behalf. It has given us a renewed and greater sense of respect for what it truly takes to be a soldier.

When we ask them what their top concerns were coming home to civilian life, the answers were always the same: How will they be viewed by their countrymen? Are they going to be viewed as somehow odd or different? Are they going to be marginalized? Will they be able to get a job that will be sufficient to support their families?

Since the repeal of the draft and the establishment of the all-volunteer army, many American civilians have taken a less personal view of the military. All the wars up to and including Vietnam were fought with mostly conscript soldiers. In many cases, they were drafted into service against their will, giving them no choice. The draft really brought the wars home and gave the civilian population a personal reason to honor and appreciate our military personnel.

But now, two generations later with a professional army, it’s easier for civilians to feel isolated and insulated from the military. It’s easier to say “It’s somebody else’s job.” It’s easy to forget about the price that has been and continues to be paid by others to give us what may easily be taken for granted. Being in the military is not just another “job.” It’s knowingly stepping into harm’s way while serving our country!

When we ask the soldiers what they wanted most when they came home, they said, “A thank you from a stranger would make my day.”

So, let’s enjoy this great American holiday and have some fun with family and friends, but let’s also remember those who made all this possible. Let’s not take our freedom, security and standard of living for granted. Let’s give recognition and gratitude to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to make our way of life what it is today. And Monday when 3:00 PM rolls around, wherever you are, share in that national moment of remembrance.

Happy Memorial Day everybody! And a big, heartfelt THANK YOU to every man and woman who has served our country.

Who We Are.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.