Backyard barbecues, long weekends, and good times with friends and family…these are the ways that most of us celebrate Memorial Day. But this special day wasn’t meant to be all fun and games. Memorial Day is actually a very important holiday that honors the men and women who have bravely given their lives serving our country. It’s a day meant to remember those courageous individuals who have sacrificed so much to secure all of the freedoms that we enjoy today. While Memorial Day can still include cookouts, beach trips and relaxing by the pool, start a few more meaningful traditions this year to remember this day of remembrance.
- Let Your American Pride Fly High
Salute the heroes who have fought to uphold our freedom by waving the American flag to celebrate Memorial Day. Decorating your home, lawn or car with the red, white and blue is a wonderful way to show your support on this patriotic day. If there’s a flag pole in your yard, raise the American flag up high, but be sure to lower it half-mast from dawn until noon as a sign of deep respect.
- Parade Your Support
Show your American spirit by marching to a Memorial Day parade. These festive community gatherings are full of patriotic music, floats covered in stars and stripes, and all kinds of Americana. Wave an American flag and cheer for the veterans, active service members, patriotic organizations and bands as they wave to you from the streets. Many of these parades conclude with a moment of silence or a special memorial service that remind us of the true meaning of the day.
- Pay Your Respects by Paying a Visit to a Cemetery
Honor our nation’s fallen heroes by visiting a local cemetery to place flowers and flags at their graves. Many cemeteries have designated areas reserved for these American heroes. If possible, visit one of the VA National Cemeteries found throughout the country that arrange their own Memorial Day services. Each adds its own special touch of gratitude and patriotism through wreath laying ceremonies, speeches, color guards, bands, choirs and more. To find out if there’s a national cemetery near you, check with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration at www.cem.va.gov.
- Salute a Moment of Silence
At 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, join the millions of Americans that stop whatever they’re doing and stay silent for a moment. This poignant pause is the National Moment of Remembrance, which was established to reflect on the integrity, courage and sacrifices of the soldiers that have fought to preserve our freedoms. So while you enjoy your Memorial Day afternoon, please take a moment to take part in this national gesture of gratitude.
- Treat a Local Veteran’s Hospital to a Visit
While Memorial Day is a time to remember our lost heroes, it’s also a perfect time to honor the many veterans who have survived their selfless service. Plan a visit to a veteran’s hospital to make these brave men and women feel special and appreciated. Spend time talking with them and thanking them for all that they sacrificed to ensure our precious freedoms. Have your kids bring cookies, cards and small gifts to the veterans to help them understand the real meaning of the holiday. This friendly visit will brighten a veteran’s day and help you see why this special one is worthy of celebration.
- Volunteer for Veterans
Consider helping the heroes that we’re fortunate to have as a way to honor the ones we’ve lost. You can volunteer your time, donate funds, contribute clothes, boost morale and do so much more to help veterans nationwide. There are many veteran’s organizations that can provide information about giving back to the veterans who have given so much to you.
So on Memorial Day, remember to honor the brave men and women who have fought to ensure our freedom to enjoy this special day.