Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans established Decoration Day, May 30, as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. It is believed the date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress.
This year, why not observe this day with a more active celebration of those heroes who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms? Here are some suggestions from Parade.com to help you make a meaningful memory on Memorial Day.
Write a letter to the troops.
Organizations like OperationWeAreHere.com and SupportOurTroops.org are great resources to help you communicate your support to the troops. These sites also offer suggestions for composing a positive and uplifting letter.
Visit a cemetery.
Visit a cemetery and place flags or flowers on the graves of fallen heroes. Veterans’ cemeteries throughout the country need volunteers to lay flowers or plant flags on the graves of military veterans. Contact a cemetery near you to find out if they need volunteers for events this Memorial Day.
Visit a local War Memorial.
If you cannot visit a War Memorial, tune in to watch Arlington National Cemetery’s Wreath-Laying ceremony. The nation’s 155th National Memorial Day Wreath-Laying and Observance Program to honor America’s fallen will be live-streamed from Arlington National Cemetery beginning at 11 a.m. EDT, Monday, May 29
Make a pledge to aid the children of our fallen dead.
Organizations like Children of Fallen Patriots are dedicated to serving the families of servicemembers from all branches of the armed forces who have died as a result of combat casualties, military training accidents, service-related illnesses, suicide, as well as other duty-related deaths as ruled by the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are many ways to contribute, like scholarships and educational counseling.
Participate in a “National Moment of Remembrance.”
The National Moment of Remembrance was first proclaimed by Congress in 2000 to unify the nation in observance of fallen veterans. It is a moment of silence for one minute at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day to pause and think upon the meaning of the day and for taps to be played where possible.
Enjoy your freedoms.
Many Americans consider Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer. Make time today to enjoy and appreciate your friends, family and your freedom to do so with a traditional celebration around the backyard grill for a barbecue. It’s the perfect time to raise your glass to those men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military.