Putting “Memorial” Back into Memorial Day

memorial day

We should always honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our families and freedom. Jill Boardman, a recently retired member of the Family First team, served as an Army Intelligence Officer from 1980-2000 and continued to serve the military as a government civilian for 13 more years. I thought it was only fitting for a Veteran to share with us how we can honor those Veterans who gave their lives for us.

Memorial Day is the time for Americans to reconnect with their history and core values by honoring those who gave their lives for the ideals we cherish. More than a million American service members died in the wars and conflicts this nation fought since the first colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775 to fight for independence. Each person who died during those conflicts was a loved one cherished by family and friends. Each was a loss to the community and the nation.

The nation observed its first official Memorial Day in 1882, a day set aside to remember and honor the sacrifice of those who died in all our nation’s wars. For decades, Memorial Day was a day in our nation when stores closed and communities gathered together for a day of parades and other celebrations with a patriotic theme. Memorial Day meant ceremonies at cemeteries around the country, speeches honoring those who gave their lives, the laying of wreaths, and the playing of Taps.

In some places, these ceremonies continue; but sadly, many Americans have lost this connection with their history. Memorial Day has simply come to mean a three-day weekend or a major shopping day. Families might still gather for picnics, but for many of them, the patriotic core—the spirit of remembrance—is absent.

The “Memorial” in Memorial Day has been ignored by too many of us who are beneficiaries of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Here are 9 ideas on how you and your family can actively remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

  1. Tell your kids what Memorial Day is really about and spend 3 minutes watching this Memorial Day Timeline video with them.
  2. Attend a local Memorial Day ceremony with your family.
  3. Visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
  4. Visit memorials.
  5. Fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.
  6. Participate in a “National Moment of Remembrance” at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played.
  7. Visit a Memorial Day or other veteran-related website for photos, individual memories, poems, prayers, and music.
  8. Share your story or encourage veterans you know to share theirs.
  9. Make a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our fallen dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.

In this country, we owe a great debt of gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives so that we could live free. [Tweet This] We can start to pay that debt by not forgetting, by remembering what they did and what they stood for.

What are some ways you and your family celebrate Memorial Day to honor our veterans and active military personnel? Leave a comment.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.