How to Add Meaning to Your Memorial Day Celebration
Add Meaning to Your Memorial Day Celebration
Another Memorial Day weekend is upon us. What does that mean to you? Are you heading to the beach, hosting a backyard barbeque, or taking a break from the world with a Netflix binge? It's easy to think of this weekend as just another three- or four-day weekend. Even I'm guilty, and I was a soldier for 22 years! We can add meaning to our Memorial Day celebrations in simple ways that will remind us of the true reason for the holiday.
Attend a Memorial Day parade or ceremony
When I was a young NCO, my mentor loved to take us to local Memorial Day events to remind us of the meaning of the weekend. Almost every town has one or the other. Parades often include local veterans and veteran organizations, and if you can participate, it's even more fun. It's meaningful to gather as a community to take a moment to remember our rich military heritage, and the celebrations ignite a sense of patriotism.
You can attend a more formal recognition of Memorial Day at the VFW, American Legion, or other veteran organizations in your area. They often hold ceremonies at their location or a local monument or cemetery. When you hear Taps played, you can't help but feel reverence and gratitude for the service men and women who gave their lives for our freedoms. Though the mood is somber at these ceremonies, you'll leave with a sense of the true meaning of Memorial Day.
Show your patriotism by flying the American flag.
Nothing adds a patriotic meaning to your barbeque or everyday activities like the good ole Red, White, and Blue. Flying a flag is a simple way to honor our country and our fallen soldiers every single day. Whether you install a permanent flagpole or hang or display it from a porch bracket, you can enjoy the flag's symbolism all year long. Just be sure you learn about American Flag etiquette and follow the accepted guidelines for flying the flag.
Wear a poppy in remembrance
You've probably seen them sold outside your local shopping centers, restaurants, and gathering spots by the VFW. But do you know why the poppy is a symbol of remembrance? The intense battles across Northern France and Belgium during World War I caused significant damage to the landscape. But in the spring, bright poppies still grew and filled the fields. This scene was later captured in a poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae titled In Flanders Fields. Since then, the bright red flower has been a symbol of the ultimate sacrifice paid by our American military.
Also, interesting to note, those VFW poppy sales you see do more than just raise a few dollars. Disabled veterans assemble those poppies at the VA, and veterans who participate in the poppy drive are compensated for their work. Funds raised by the Buddy Poppy sale also support VFW programs that assist veterans and families.
Join the nation in a moment of silence
Formally known as the National Moment of Remembrance, the nation joins in a moment of silence at 3:00 pm (local time) on Memorial Day. All are encouraged to take a minute to pause and reflect on the sacrifices of the servicemembers who have died in service to our nation.
Remember your fallen comrades
One of the best ways to bring meaning to your Memorial Day celebrations is to simply remember our fallen comrades. It's probably safe to say that we all know at least one service member who has passed, whether in combat or other circumstances. We all have a personal connection to Memorial Day through our friends and family members who have served.
Adding meaning to Memorial Day can be as simple as remembering those we've lost and honoring them as we go throughout the weekend. Remember them. Tell stories. Laugh. Share photos. Play their favorite songs. Give a toast (or two) in their honor.
Take a moment to acknowledge that the weekend is more than a break from work or the unofficial start of the summer. It's a time to remember those who gave their lives for our country. That's how you add meaning to Memorial Day weekend.