Monday, May 26, 2014
Memorial Day is a U.S. federal holiday wherein the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces are remembered. The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the final Monday of May, was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.
Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.
Memorial Day is more than the holiday heralding summer. It is a time when our nation reflects with gratitude on the sacrifice so many in uniform have made. Flags will be lowered to half-mast until noon and communities will be holding services and parades to honor our military.
But what can each of us do to keep the true meaning and spirit of Memorial Day alive? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Take part in the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 pm
Wherever you are, stop, and give a minute of your time for awareness or prayer.
2. Be a part of your community
Before firing up the barbeque, attend one of those parades or commemorative services. Most cities will hold concerts. If yours doesn’t, you will be able to catch the televised National Memorial Day Concert on Capitol Hill Sunday evening.
3. Purchase a poppy from a VFW member
They usually sell them for a donation in front of shopping centers. Tie a poppy to your purse or your lapel as a reminder to all of us that this isn’t just a day to find great deals on appliances.
4. Blast the Sousa
Make a patriotic music playlist and hang the red, white, and blue. This is the day to fly our nation’s flag but don’t stint on the bunting either.
5. Keep your family’s personal military history alive
Over the picnic table, share stories of family members who served this country. Wearing the uniform calls for sacrifice but it is also an amazing adventure and one that deserves to be documented. If you have someone willing to reminiscence, turn on a recorder or jot down notes. Don’t let your family’s story disappear into the murky haze of memory.
6. If you are a Veteran, please, take a moment to write your own history
Some experiences you may not feel willing to share but as time passes, your perspective might change and we, as a nation, can gain from your insight. Plus, those service ribbons and commendations and the insignias that you earned—gather them up and please keep them safe. Digitizing letters written during that time or photos might not be a bad idea either.
7. Donate to a charity that supports our military in ways our government doesn’t.
A good list with information and ratings as to the effectiveness of the charity is at Charity Navigator.
If you feel called to do more, consider helping the USO in its mission to help active duty personnel and their families. The VA Hospitals also always need volunteers. For more information, you can contact the USO here. You can learn more about volunteering at your local VA Hospital at http://www.volunteer.va.gov.
Please think about this today and think about your family and friends who came before you who sacrificed their lives for you. God Bless America.
A personal remembrance to Gene Hasse, Carl Hasse, Charles Hasse, David Hasse, Richard Lewis, Harry Bigglestone, Bill Bigglestone, and Dan Oldewage.
May 26, 2014