Memorial Day is indeed a unique calendar mark here in America. Celebrated by many as the beginning of summer and a reason to gather together with friends and family, it is, at the core, so much more meaningful and for a very different reason than most understand.

I begin remembering what a veteran of the Vietnam War told me many years ago when he remarked, “Hell, this isn’t Christmas! Never wish anyone a HAPPY Memorial Day!”. After some introspective thinking, I realized he was correct. Memorial Day is not for being happy, it’s instead for remember those who gave their life in the service of America. It’s not about burgers and beers first and foremost, though certainly the sacrifices of our military men and women have allowed us the opportunity to spend a weekend relaxing with friends and family.

It’s about them. Not us.

Something Armando Christian Perez, otherwise known by his stage name “Pitbull”, seems to have conveniently forgotten in his latest attempt to make the day all about the self-appointed “Mr. Worldwide”.

This is how he choose to celebrate “Memorial Day” 2017 to honor those who fought and died for his right to be born and raised in America.

Pitbull Memorial Day tweet

Stunningly insulting on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. As the son of a proud member of our US military, knowing what my Father and others went through in service to this Nation, my level of disgust at seeing this individual using this commemorative day  to honor deceased soldiers for personal profit and promotion, reaches a new and very visceral level of bile-inducing revulsion.

Let’s forget my personal feelings and allow other to weigh in.

I won’t lie. I’m not a fan of Perez. Never have been. I’m not the target demographic for what he calls music, and that’s OK.

But he is reaching millions of young people around the world, plenty of Americans. And while I’m never one to bleat about “role models”, it’s true that those with a level of celebrity status do influence millions. Their message often becomes the message of those who blindly follow, often with no knowledge of why or the message they’re being taught.

The message Perez sends here is that it’s OK to make a day all about remembering those who sacrificed everything for freedom, all about his freedom to market and promote himself, his album sales and his personal appearances.

It’s OK to denigrate and minimize the memory of American soldiers.

It is, in a word, despicable. But not entirely unexpected. Perez comes from a generation that largely knows nothing of self-sacrifice, nor do they seem to care about educating themselves. It’s in that deplorable niche someone with a level of notoriety as Perez can use their power to change the way people think. Can use their status to promote a positive and proper message.

Can show real leadership.

Then again, no one should be shocked by Perez and his aim to promote himself at any and all costs. After all, this is the individual who a few years back recorded a song with the lyrics ““Shake that s*** b****/And be off in the club with a hard-a** d***.”

So let’s get to it with this edition of “Gimme 5”:

  • THINK BEFORE YOU TWEET: This one is often first and foremost in anything with Twitter involved. You want to say something, go right ahead. But sit back for a few minutes. Look at it. Read it. Read it again. Now, read it a THIRD time. understand that this is how you will be judged. THINK about what you’ve written, what you’re saying, and how it will be interpreted and even MISinterpreted by others. You get one shot. Don’t screw it up.
  • USE YOUR POWER FOR SOMETHING POSITIVE: You don’t have to be a famous singer, dancer, movie star or world leader. Even in your small group, you can and should lead by example. Everyone has a level of power they can use to influence others, especially the younger generation. As Uncle Ben Parker told his nephew Peter, who would go on to become “The Amazing Spider Man” in comic mythology, “With great power comes great responsibility”. And at some level, we ALL have the capacity for great power and great responsibility.
  • DON’T BE A SELF SERVING EGOMANIAC: It doesn’t and shouldn’t always be about YOU. True leaders are always thinking first and foremost about others and what they can do for them. Perez could have made this a positive simply by taking his picture out of the frame. Make it about the flag, those who served, and the day. Now, he’s a preening, self important child.
  • DON’T LET SOMEONE ELSE RUN AND POTENTIALLY RUIN YOUR IMAGE: Let’s guess that Perez, like others currently in the news, are not really the ones issuing every tweet. They likely have someone else doing it for them as they are occupied with other matters. If you’re at this type of point in your professional or personal life, understand you’re giving the power of your image to someone else. NEVER surrender that power. This is YOUR image. This is who YOU are. Be in charge of everything and anything issued that is seen coming from you. Take the time to be a caretaker of your image.
  • APOLOGIZE WITHOUT FEAR OR HESITATION: 24 hours after the tweet was issued and Perez was roundly criticized for it, he remained silent. He certainly by then had read or heard about the uproar and hopefully, though one can never be certain when it comes to the self-indulgent narcissists of the world, understood he made a mistake. Admit it. Get it out there. Don’t fear the backlash. It’s tougher to admit a mistake than make the initial gaffe, and in the end, it shows potential for taking responsibility and accountability. Your image will rise before those who respect simply saying “My bad”.

The pit bull dog breed is one of great intelligence, and is often given a bad name by humans who use them as extensions of their phony macho manhood and train them to be aggressive.

Judging by the evidence, perhaps pit bulls of the world need to unite and request Perez fashion a new and more fitting nickname that would no longer bring ill-repute to their breed.

Though I tend to believe jackasses would be similarly insulted.