Memorial Day has come to mark the beginning of the summer for many Americans. It’s a day filled with barbecues and gatherings of friends and family who are enjoying a day off of work. However, Memorial Day, as its name implies, is meant to be a time to honor those who have died serving this country. Memorial Day has a rich history of honoring fallen soldiers that stems back to the Civil War. So how do we balance the excitement of summer’s kickoff with the meaningful reflection on which the holiday was designed? Here are a few ideas to keep in mind as you make plans this Memorial weekend.
To keep those who have served our country in the forefront of your mind this holiday, Military.com recommends taking your family to a local veterans cemetery or war memorial where you can pay tribute to those who’ve fallen by bringing flowers and reflecting on the sacrifice these servicemen and women have made.
Volunteer or Make a Donation
Volunteering your time at your local veterans hospital is a great way to give something back to our nation’s heroes. To find a volunteering opportunity, go to VA.gov and search for a location near you.
Another option is making a cash or non-cash donation to the hospital. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, cash is used to pay for things such as hygiene products, recreational activities, community living center programs, cultural transformation and patient-centered care initiatives. If you’d like to make a non-cash donation, items such as magazines, hygiene products, shoes, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, new clothing and telephone cards are always in demand. For more information, contact your local veterans hospital to inquire as to their specific needs.
Attend a Parade
Every year, cities all across the country honor soldiers with a Memorial Day parade. It’s a great way for communities to remember veterans, current military members, and those who’ve given their lives for their country. Seeing everyone come together to celebrate and pay tribute to these heroes can be a powerful way to teach children the significance of the day. To find a parade near you, check out this Memorial Day parade directory.
Share Stories and Discuss Family History
Another wonderful way to honor veterans is to bring out old photos and memorabilia and talk about family members who’ve served in the military, past and present. If you haven’t already, create a scrapbook or photo album as a family. Each picture likely has a memory attached to it, providing an opportunity for meaningful conversation about loved ones.
How do you honor veterans, military members and fallen soldiers each Memorial Day? Let us know in the comments below.