Giving Back for Memorial Day
For many, Memorial Day is just another bank holiday, i.e., a time to relax, hang out with family, and catch up on seasonal sales.
While you certainly can and should enjoy these leisure activities, it’s important to remember why Memorial Day exists. It is a day where we, as a nation, honor American men and women who have fallen in the line of duty.
Below are some simple but effective ways to pay your respects this upcoming Memorial Day.
1. Learn American War History
No matter where you live, there are local museums, monuments and history centers dedicated to American military conflicts. There are even online resources to help you find nearby memorials in your area.
If you’re more of a homebody, you’re in luck. There are tons of war films that you can rent or stream from the comfort of your home. Movie Guide has a great list to get you started. So does Entertainment Weekly.
2. Patronize Veteran Businesses
Want to take advantage of Memorial Day sales? There’s no reason why you shouldn’t, but consider supporting area businesses run by U.S. veterans.
3. Volunteer Your Money and Time
If you really want to make an impact, think about devoting some of your time or money to local charities — especially those that work directly with veterans.
By contacting your state’s Veterans Affairs office, you can easily find soup kitchens, fundraisers or hospitals that are eager for volunteers and donations.
Don’t forget those who are often left behind, i.e., the children and spouses of those killed in combat. Fortunately, the National Military Family Association makes it easy to get involved, whether you want to donate time or money.
4. Pay Your Respects
One of the best ways to honor the fallen is by visiting military cemeteries. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a list of all 135 nationally recognized burial sites throughout the country.
Not every state has a military cemetery that you can easily visit, so buy an American flag — preferably from a veteran-owned business — instead, and display it proudly on Memorial Day.
Furthermore, you can join the nation in a moment of silence — a tradition that dates back to 2000 when President Clinton designated 3 p.m. as the official time to “pause and consider the true meaning of (Memorial Day).”
How Will You Celebrate This Memorial Day?
With travel plans, barbecues and pre-summer sales, it’s easy to lose sight of Memorial Day’s true purpose. With the right approach, it’s possible to enjoy your three-day weekend while still honoring America’s fallen heroes.
So have fun. Go shopping. Hang out with friends. But never take those privileges for granted. We’re able to enjoy these things thanks to the many sacrifices others have made in defense of our freedom.