Memorial Day is a time to honor those who defended our country with their lives. For those veterans, soldiers and first responders who put others before themselves—for those ancestors, friends and loved ones that helped make our country the bastion of freedom it is today.
With time, Memorial Day has also become a day for celebrating the start of summer: For BBQs, swimming, and other carefree fun. Unfortunately, the real meaning of Memorial Day is often lost in the middle of all this celebrating. In remembrance of what Memorial Day truly stands for, here are 10 ways that you and your family can honor the true spirit of this patriotic holiday.
Of all days to fly the flag, Memorial Day is among the most important. Because Memorial Day is traditionally a day of mourning, etiquette dictates the flag should remain at half-staff from sunrise until noon (to honor our fallen heroes), and full-staff for the remainder of the day (to honor living veterans). Just remember: the American flag should always fly higher than all others, including state and county flags.
Memorial Day is a day to celebrate the courage of our fallen veterans. Whether it belongs to a family member, a friend, or even a stranger, decorating the graves of American soldiers with flowers or flags is a meaningful way to show that you care. You can find the closest VA National Cemeteries for Memorial Day by visiting the U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs website.
Sending a care package to a soldier in the armed forces is a powerful way to show you appreciate their sacrifices. Friends, family and even strangers can benefit from your generosity. Including a handwritten letter will make the gesture that much more moving. Organizations like Operation Gratitude can help you with the process.
Veterans and pro-veteran organization are always in need of financial support. Visit Charity Navigator for more information.
Nearly every city has a Memorial Day celebration of some kind—whether it be a parade, a picnic, a concert, or a formal event. Show your support by joining your community in celebration of our soldiers both fallen and living. (Update: given COVD-19, expect many of these events to be held virtually this year).
One way we at Cedarcide celebrate Memorial Day is by participating in Dallas’ Carry the Load March. This 20-hour walk honors military service of all shapes and sizes, with proceeds benefitting suitable charities. Find out how you can volunteer here. (Update: Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, there will be no March this year. but we encourage you to participate in this year’s Memorial Day Drive, and we’ll see you next year!).
A personal “thank you” is a heartfelt way to express your respect and gratitude. If you don’t have a family or friend involved in the military, you can visit a local veteran’s hospital and show your appreciation face-to-face. A small gesture like flowers, a card, or baked goods will make the experience all the more special.
(Update: Don’t let COVID-19 get between you and honoring a real life American Hero. Thank you’s can also be done face-to-face over iPhone, Skype, Zoom, or another digital video service.)
The National Moment of Remembrance was established in 2000 to commemorate those we honor on Memorial Day. At 3 p.m. local time, take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices and bravery of the soldiers that served to safeguard the integrity of our great nation.
Have a family member or friend who served or is serving in the military? Whether over the phone or in person, take a moment to sit down with them to hear their stories. Not only is this a kind gesture, you’re certain to learn a great deal. Recording these stories on tape or on paper is a useful way to help preserve the valiant efforts of our country’s many heroes.
Donating your time to veterans or veteran causes is an incredibly thoughtful tribute to our nation’s soldiers. You can learn more about volunteering by visiting The United Service Organization’s website, or The U.S.Dept. of Veteran Affairs’ volunteer site.
The red poppy symbolizes soldiers and their many priceless sacrifices. To benefit soldiers and various veteran agencies, purchase a red poppy and display it proudly on Memorial Day. It’s a touching way to outwardly show your support for the troops.