Memorial Day, observed this year on May 28, is the day set apart to remember all those who have lost their lives while serving in the armed forces. While Veteran’s Day honors all those who have served, Memorial Day is specifically for those who have died.
While it may appear hard to balance the barbecues of a three day weekend with remembering the loss of so many, we’ve got six ideas to help you put meaning back into your Memorial Day.
Raise Your Flag
Displaying the flag is a powerful and physical way to show your respect for those who have died while serving our country. Traditionally, the U.S. flag is raised to the top of the staff quickly, then lowered to half-staff (the official term for flying the flag halfway up the flagpole as a symbol of mourning). It remains that way until noon, when it is raised to full-staff as a symbol that the memory of those lost is being raised by the living and that we ourselves will rise up and take their place to fight for liberty.
Flying POW and MIA flags is also appropriate.
The National Moment of Remembrance
Congress has established the National Moment of Remembrance for Memorial Day; all Americans are asked to stop what they are doing at 3PM and have a moment of silence for one minute. This time of the afternoon was chosen because it is generally the period of day when Americans are in the full-swing of their holiday celebrations, enjoying the freedom others have died for.
Visit a Veteran’s Cemetery
While many veterans have their graves cared for by family members, many do not. Consider visiting your state’s Veteran’s Cemetery or visiting the grave of a veteran you knew to place a flag or leave flowers on graves that have nothing on them. You can also contact your local veteran’s cemetery to seek more service opportunities.
Support Loved Ones Left Behind
Honor those who have died by serving their families who have been left behind. Visit the homes, leave notes, or serve someone you know who has lost a family member who served. Many families are part of organizations to support loved ones left behind and to remember their lost one. Ask them what you can do. You can also support organizations dedicated to help widows, widowers, and their children. Here are two examples:
The poppy is a symbol worldwide for mourning those lost in war or military service. The symbol comes from the poem “In Flanders Fields.” Wear a poppy or make poppy crafts with your family, reading the poem and discussing the history of Memorial Day and the importance of remembering our freedoms continually come from the sacrifices of our service men and women.
Remember Your Loved One
If you have lost a loved one in the armed forces, reach out to help others understand the importance of this day and what it is truly for. Gather together friends and family to share memories of your fallen hero. Record these memories in a way you feel comfortable.
What ways have you found make your Memorial Day more meaningful? Have you lost a loved one who served? Let us know below what we can do remember their sacrifice.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.