Memorial Day is a time to commemorate fallen soldiers of the United States armed forces, but not many people celebrate it as such. Respectfully honor Memorial Day with the help of the ways below.
How to Remember and Honor Memorial Day
Memorial Day has long been associated with the beginning of summer. As such, a lot of Americans spend this federal holiday at outdoor pool parties and BBQs. While there’s no harm in these celebrations, it’s important to remember that Memorial Day is more than just a day off.
Memorial Day, which falls on the last Monday of May, honors the military personnel who have died while in service of the United States armed forces. Here’s how you can celebrate the true meaning of Memorial Day.
1. Volunteer at a Local Veterans Cemetery
A good way to honor the fallen on Memorial Day is to visit a local veterans cemetery. Volunteer your time and decorate the graves of these heroes with the American flag and flowers. The fallen gave their lives to protect the freedom of ordinary citizens like you, so it’s a fitting method of commemoration.
2. Display the U.S. Flag
Show some patriotism this Memorial Day by flying the United States flag outside your home. Make sure to display the flag in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code. On Memorial Day, that means flying the flag at half-staff until noon. After that, raise the flag to the top of the staff.
3. Sponsor a Wreath
The Memorial Day Foundation makes it easy for Americans to honor fallen soldiers from afar. If you can’t visit a local or national cemetery, sponsor a wreath instead. The Foundation will then place the wreath at a New York War Memorial of your choice. You can also write a short dedication that will be delivered along with the wreath. Additionally, the Memorial Day Foundation accepts donations online or by mail.
4. Visit a Monument or Memorial Site
The United States is home to several monuments and memorial sites. A lot of these monuments and memorials are located in parks as well, so you can make a day of it. Some great places to start include the Andersonville National Historic Site, the Antietam National Battlefield, the World War II Memorial, Valley Forge National Historical Park, the African American Civil War Memorial, and Pearl Harbor National Memorial. At these places, you will learn more about the significance of Memorial Day and the sacrifices our fallen heroes made.
There are also plenty of museums that will teach you about wartime history. These include the National Memorial Day Museum in Waterloo, the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, and the National Veterans Memorial and Museum in Columbus.
5. Pause at 3 p.m.
At 3 p.m. local time every Memorial Day, Americans are encouraged to take a pause for a minute as an act of commemoration. Known as the National Moment of Remembrance, many radio stations also observe this minute-long reflection by playing “Taps.”
6. Watch the National Memorial Day Concert
Every year, PBS broadcasts the National Memorial Day Concert as a way of remembering and honoring fallen heroes. It also gives Americans a chance to show their support through cash donations. The event is definitely a show-stopping and star-studded one, which is why millions of people tune in to watch the concert.
7. Visit a Military Fort or Site of a Battlefield
The United States is full of former military forts that are open to the public. This Memorial Day, spend an afternoon learning about a military fort near you. The preserved walls of these forts tell rich stories of historical significance and give you a chance to appreciate the contributions of fallen soldiers.
If forts aren’t your thing, consider visiting the site of a battlefield instead. The National Park Service protects a number of battlefields — each with a story to impart. The Minute Man National Historical Park, for instance, tells stories of the American Revolution on the battlefields of Lexington and Concord. Other notable sites of battlefields include the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park, the Gettysburg National Military Park, the Vicksburg National Military Park, and the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.
8. Attend a Memorial Day Parade
Many cities across the United States organize Memorial Day parades in celebration of the holiday. Larger ones include parades in the cities of New York and Chicago. If you can’t make it in person, watch the National Memorial Day Parade instead. This parade takes place in Washington, D.C., and is broadcast live across the globe.
9. Walk a Trail of Remembrance
Want a way to commemorate Memorial Day while spending some time outdoors? Walk a trail of remembrance. National Historic Trails remember the different routes military members used in the past. Some examples include the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail and the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. Walking these trails is a great way to learn about history while getting some exercise at the same time.
10. Offer Financial Assistance
Fallen soldiers aren’t just soldiers — they’re someone’s parent, child, and spouse. Fortunately, you can provide financial support to the bereaved family members of fallen troops. The United Service Organization and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) have dedicated programs just for that.
11. Share a Heartfelt Post
Sometimes, a heartfelt post on social media is enough to honor Memorial Day. You can do this if you have a family member or friend who lost their lives while in service. But, that isn’t to say you can’t post as a way of showing empathy. You can share a photo of them on social media and accompany it with a sincere message. Then, invite other people to do the same.
More Than Just a Holiday
Memorial Day carries definitely military significance, but it’s also when a lot of people remember fallen family members or friends. Even if you’ve never experienced the same loss, make sure to honor Memorial Day using one of the ways explained above. After all, these heroes gave their lives to preserve your freedom.
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