In the excitement of summer’s unofficial arrival, it is easy to overlook what Memorial Day really is. Beyond the barbecues and neighborhood gatherings lies the real meaning of this day: remembrance. The Memorial Day holiday is a time to reflect on those who served during wartime and on family members who lost their lives during wartime.
It is important that we take time to honor those who have served our country selflessly. While we’ve all heard stories of veterans who don’t want to talk about their wartime experiences, we can still find ways to salute and say “thank you” on Memorial Day.
Ideas to Honor Veterans on Memorial Day
Here are a few suggestions on what you and others in your local community can do to honor our nation’s veterans on May 30th this year:
- National Moment of Remembrance: Spread the word about the National Moment of Remembrance. This movement encourages people to pause whatever they are doing at 3:00 pm local time on Memorial Day to honor those who died serving our country. You can share this information on your social channels in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day to help raise awareness.
- Fly the Flag: On Memorial Day, follow proper flag etiquette for honoring our fallen soldiers. That means hoisting the flag to its peak for an instant in the morning, and then lowering it and flying it at half-staff until noon. After that you should ceremonially raise the flag to full-staff for the remainder of the day.
- Memorial Day Survivors: If an older adult you know served during a time of war, ask them what you can do to honor the day. It might be by helping them take flowers to a fellow soldier’s grave or by attending a local parade together.
- Encourage the Stories: Many soldiers are reluctant to share their stories. It might be painful for them to relive such a terrible time. Or it could be because they still have lingering feelings of guilt that they survived when so many didn’t. But don’t just assume a veteran you know isn’t willing to share his or her stories. Ask them who their friends were in the war and what countries they visited during their time of service. Encourage them to share and then take time to really listen to and appreciate their stories.
- Thank our Military: During your holiday weekend gathering, make a point of saluting our veterans. Pause the party to give people attending a chance to share stories of the people in their family or circle of friends who were in the military during a time of war. You could even ask party goers ahead of time to bring photos of those they know who served. It will help everyone slow down long enough to remind themselves of the true meaning of Memorial Day.
Make a commitment now to remember to keep the focus of the holiday weekend on the lives that were lost to give each of us the freedoms we enjoy today!