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Memorial Day: We Walk Among Giants



Memorial Day is more than a three-day weekend.

Is it fortunate that, as the memories of war and the old soldiers who fought them fade away, so too does the fire and light of Memorial Day? Would the soldiers who lost their lives so we could hang on to our freedom be saddened that so many Americans honor those veterans’ sacrifices with tapped kegs and fireworks? I’ve met enough living soldiers to know that the ones who have passed almost certainly would be pleased to be honored with celebrations and parties. But while we’re firing up for a three-day weekend, let’s do take a moment of solemnity. It’s the least we can offer in exchange for a sacrifice that can never, ever be repaid. Our friends at the NSSF have some thoughts, and they’re worthy of being read out loud.



By Mark Oliva

I once walked among giants.

It was a brief time – that feels even more brief as the years pass since I wore the uniform of a U.S. Marine. It was just 25 years, and for some, that might seem as if two-and-a-half decades was a lifetime. Looking back, especially on Memorial Day when we pause as a nation to honor those who gave their lives in defense of freedom, my time walking among giants was a moment to stand in awe of these great Americans.

I’m not alone when I tell people that I walked among giants. It’s a phrase I’ve heard many veterans use when they try to capture what Memorial Day means for them. For so many of us in the firearm industry, we know and share this feeling.

We walked among giants.

Those giants grow taller as I grow older. They were fresh-faced men and women from all corners of America. They grew up on Midwest farms, bustling cities, suburbs and everywhere in between. They were American as could be. Some were the second and third generation of their family to serve in the military. Others were immigrants – serving in combat to defend America’s freedoms even before they earned their own citizenship. They were young – some as young as 18. They were sons and daughters. They became family. None of us knew it at the time, but they were giants.

I had the chance to walk in their presence.

Those wars – fought in Iraq and Afghanistan – are now part of history’s lessons. The years since the guns fell silent relentlessly continue. What remains, though, are the memories of those giants. America’s freedoms don’t come without cost. There is a high toll for the liberties Americans enjoy that’s been paid by these giants. Freedom’s cost isn’t lost on those in the firearm and ammunition industry.

There’s an umbilical connection between the firearm and ammunition industry and the U.S. military. This industry does more than just provide the means for all Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms. This industry also equips America’s warfighters with the small arms and ammunition they carry into harm’s way. The rifles, shotguns, handguns and cartridges – essential tools for freedom’s defense – come from our factories.

The firearm and ammunition industry celebrates these freedoms every day. The American flag flies in front our factories. It is often hung inside the walls. Many of the production facilities proudly display memorabilia gifted to businesses from veterans who have served in war, many from those same veterans who walk the halls and floors that produce the finest firearms and ammunition that Americans use today. The memories of those who fought for freedom and are buried in our nation’s cemeteries are carried with them today.

This industry is especially indebted to those who sacrificed their lives to preserve freedom. This industry would not exist in the form we see it today if it weren’t for those patriots who picked up arms in defense of our values, our freedoms, our families and our neighbors. That radical sense of self-determination was sparked by Minutemen answering freedom’s call on the greens of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, in 1775. It cost the lives of Americans standing for freedom then and has echoed through generations through today even as Americans serve in far-flung and remote locations around the globe. That clarion call to freedom’s defense and the high price it takes is why we take one special day to honor these men and women who, despite the cost of their lives, stood in defense of ours.

I’m not alone in saying that I’ve walked among giants. We understand this deep in our souls. The sacrifice these young Americans – these giants – made for all Americans isn’t lost on us. Freedom’s cost was their lives. That’s why on Memorial Day, we pause with the rest of America to honor that debt that we can’t fully repay.

This Memorial Day, join the rest of the firearm and ammunition industry to pause, reflect and remember these giants. These young Americans, from all walks of life and all corners of our country, are more than deserving of a day of reflection. Their sacrifice purchased our freedom. Their blood bought our tomorrows and their memories cast the shadows in which we find respite.

They were giants and for a brief time, I was honored to walk among them.



  1. P.M.D.

    May 27, 2024 at 8:18 pm

    To Mr. Mark Oliva
    THANK YOU – What a wonderful article you wrote. I to for 17 1/2 years walked among giants. Some who I called friend and brother. Some did not come home with me. They were the true giants and I was proud they called me their friend.

  2. Bob Holley

    May 27, 2024 at 10:01 am

    On this Momorial Day, I pray for our military, past and present, and their families, that God’s richest blessings be upon them! 🙏 God bless America and God bless our military! Amen!

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