For many of us, Memorial Day weekend is a chance to escape to the beach, hold a barbeque and enjoy some time with family and friends. In recent years, it seems like more and more of us have forgotten the true meaning of Memorial Day and instead use it as an opportunity to kick off the unofficial start of summer.
While enjoying your long weekend, try to take some time to honor the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Here are 7 ways to honor Veterans on Memorial Day weekend.
Help decorate Veterans’ graves at your local cemetery
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and the purpose was to decorate the graves of fallen Veterans. Contact your local cemetery and ask if they are doing anything to honor Veterans this weekend. If so, spend some time volunteering to help with planting flowers and flags on Veterans’ graves.
Visit a memorial museum or monument
Across the country, you will find a countless number of military memorials, museums and monuments. Take some time this weekend to visit one near you. Not only is this a great opportunity to pay your respects to fallen Veterans, you might even learn a little bit about military history. Many of these landmarks will hold services this weekend as well so call ahead and find out when you should plan to go.
Have a toast to your family’s veterans
Chances are, a member of your family has served in the military. Whether or not they died in combat, take some time this weekend to honor their memory. If you plan to hold a barbeque or family gathering, make sure to have a toast to the fallen Veterans in your life. This is a great opportunity to share stories about the deceased and say thanks for the sacrifices your Veteran made.
Fly the American flag properly
If you have a flagpole in front of your home, make sure to follow proper mourning etiquette. First thing in the morning, raise the flag to the peak of the flagpole. After a moment has passed, slowly lower the flag to the midway point of “half-staff”. At noon, make sure to raise the flag back to the top of the flagpole. Finally, at the end of the day, have a small ceremony or moment of reflection before lowering the flag and removing it from the pole. Make sure that the flag never touches the ground.
Tune in to the National Memorial Day Parade (May 28, at 2:00 PM ET)
If your lucky, your community might hold a Memorial Day parade. If not, make sure to watch the National Memorial Day Parade on television. This event was started in 2005 by the American Veterans Center and the World War II Veterans Committee. The parade will broadcast live from Washington, DC to televisions nationwide and troops stationed around the globe. Make sure to check your local listings.
Make a donation to a Veteran charity
A great way to honor fallen veterans is by donating to charities that help Veterans and their families. Many of these organizations provide Veterans with homes, scholarship opportunities, rehabilitation programs and support for families. Below is a list of different charities you can support:
Observe the National Moment of Remembrance
The National Moment of Remembrance has been an officially recognized moment of reflection since the year 2000. At 3:00 PM local time, make sure to pause for a minute of silence. This is a moment to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice millions of Veterans have made for us at home. Join in on this moment of national unity as we pay respects to our nations fallen heroes.
How are you planning to spend Memorial Day, let us know in the comment section below!