Memorial Day has a different meaning for everyone. Oftentimes, people use this day as a celebration for the arrival of summer. Cookouts, family reunions, and a 3-day-weekend are all a blast but they can take away the importance of what the day truly signifies. While you celebrate good food and loved ones, don’t forget to honor and celebrate the brave men and women who have died fighting for our country.

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” – Elmer Davis

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, was declared by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. In his General Order No. 11 he states:

 “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.”

This Year, Honor Memorial Day with These 5 Activities:

1) Attend A Parade.

Many towns have parades on Memorial Day and some events even conclude with a memorial service. So take some time out from prepping for BBQs or relaxing with friends and family and take advantage of your town’s Memorial Day Celebration.

2) Buy A Poppy.

During the days leading up to Memorial Day, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars take donations for poppies. The poppy’s significance to Memorial Day is the result of the John McCrae poem “In Flanders Fields.” Disabled and needy veterans in VA hospitals have been assembling Buddy Poppies since 1924. Purchase one, and on top of honoring Memorial Day, your donation will assist in maintaining state and national rehabilitation and service programs for veterans.

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Photo Credit: army.gov.au

3) Decorate with Flags.

For this year’s Memorial Day celebration break out the red, white, and blue! Over many decades it has been a tradition to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flags on Memorial Day. So why not bring that tradition home and decorate your house and lawn with the stars and stripes! Another tradition is to fly the flag at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. So if you have a flag pole, consider joining the tradition this year.

4) Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance.

In an effort to restore and honor Memorial Day as the sacred and noble holiday it was meant to be, the National Moment of Remembrance, established by Congress, asks Americans wherever they are at 3 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day to pause in an act of national unity (duration: one minute). The time 3 p.m. was chosen because it is the hour when most Americans enjoy their free time, which symbolizes their freedom, on the national holiday.

5) Thank A Veteran.

While Memorial Day is a time for remembering and honoring our fallen soldiers, it’s also a wonderful occasion to thank those soldiers, past and present, who are right here in our midst today! Thank them for all they have done to protect our country and our freedom. 

Don’t know a veteran or want to do more? You can write a letter to a veteran or soldier! Check out: OperationGratitude.com for more information about writing letters or sending care packages to soldiers currently deployed.

In addition to all these activities, we do of course suggest you attend a cookout or two. Just keep in mind that this day holds a lot more meaning than just hanging out and having a really delicious burger off the grill. However you decide to spend your Memorial Day weekend, don’t forget to take a moment and be grateful for the people who have fought hard, and are currently fighting, for our beautiful country.

If you’re trying to think of things to do for Memorial Day with your team, check out our Operation Military Care program. You’ll develop team skills while assembling care packages for men and women who are serving our country. What better activity for your next team building than giving back? It’s a rewarding program that everyone benefits from!

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Molly Chronister

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