Memorial Day: A Solemn Day Honoring All Those Who Sacrificed

We interview Dan Goldenberg about his military service and dedication to helping veterans as the Executive Director of Call of Duty® Endowment.

by David Hodgson on May 27, 2019

This Memorial Day, all of us at Activision Blizzard honor those who sacrificed to defend the freedom we enjoy today.

We spoke to Navy veteran Captain Dan Goldenberg about his service, what Memorial Day means to him, and his strong personal connection to supporting veterans as the Executive Director of Call of Duty® Endowment.

Activision Games Blog (AGB): Thank you for your service. Can you tell us about your service?

Dan Goldenberg (DG): After graduating the Naval Academy, I attended flight school, eventually qualifying as a naval flight officer and mission commander on the E-2C Hawkeye, joining VAW-125 and flying off USS ENTERPRISE and USS EISENHOWER.  I deployed to support missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq. Following that, I worked in the Pentagon for three years. August 11, 2001, was my last day on active duty. I left to go to business school and exactly one month later we were attacked. I decided to join the Navy Reserve after that and am still serving today.  I’ve been very fortunate to serve with great people and command four units during this time—in England, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Hawaii. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat! 

AGB: How do you commemorate Memorial Day?

DG: I think about my shipmates lost in operations, training and on 9/11. Some years I’ll visit a national cemetery with my kids and place graveside flags. I think it’s important that people who have not served in the military understand the significance of this occasion—it’s why I expose my kids to it.

In the U.S., Memorial Day is about commemorating the fallen, as opposed to Veterans Day (11/11), which exists to honor living Veterans.  This is very different compared to 22 other nations, where 11/11 is their day to think about those killed in defense of their nations—commonly referred to as Remembrance Day.

Here’s an interesting historical note: World War I ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, which is why 11/11 today—101 after the Armistice—is such a significant occasion.

On this occasion, in my role leading the Endowment, I think the best way we can honor the fallen is by serving their surviving comrades in arms to obtain meaningful employment, which opens up so many other good things in life for them.

AGB: How did you get involved in the Call of Duty Endowment?

DG: In my Navy Reserve work, I had deployed many of my people to Iraq, Afghanistan and other theaters. I tried my best to help them find meaningful civilian work when they returned, which was especially difficult in 2008, 2009, due to the global recession. That said, I had some success in these efforts and became keenly interested in the challenge of high-quality veteran employment. Around the time of my tenth year working in the commercial sector, I was approached with the opportunity to lead the Call of Duty Endowment. The Endowment’s Board of Directors, including Bobby Kotick and General Jim Jones, were looking for a veteran with extensive management experience and a passion for the cause to lead the organization as its first full-time executive director. I jumped at the chance to help drive a larger impact for our veterans!  

AGB: When did the Endowment start, and how has it helped Veterans throughout the intervening years?

DG: Bobby co-founded the Endowment in 2009 with a mission to help as many veterans as possible find high quality jobs. It took us a few years to get the model right, but by 2013 we had figured things out and had an approach in place which finds and funds the highest performing veteran serving non-profits in the US (and now UK). To date, we’ve funded the placement of more than 57,000 into great jobs—that’s enough vets to completely fill Yankee Stadium—and we’ve done it at one-sixth the cost per placement of US Government efforts.

AGB: Finally, what are some of the best ways to support to the Endowment?

DG: There are lots of ways to help. If you’re interested, I highly encourage you to check out our ‘Ways You Can Help’ page. Also, if you are a veteran who needs help finding a job—or know a vet who does—please visit our ‘Veteran Support’ page.  Finally, I encourage everyone to take a quiet moment out on Memorial Day to think about those who’ve sacrificed everything so we can enjoy the lives we lead today.

AGB: Thank you for your time and service, Dan.

Co-founded in 2009 by Bobby Kotick, the Call of Duty Endowment is a 501(c)(3) foundation supported by Activision Blizzard, its customers and consumers. For further information or updates about the Call of Duty Endowment, or if you’d like to place an online donation, visit the Call of Duty Endowment website, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.