While everyone enjoys a long weekend marking the arrival of summer, families and communities across the nation take time on Memorial Day to honor those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. Americans observe this special holiday in many different ways and here are some ways that you and your family can participate in Memorial Day activities:
Displaying the American Flag
On Memorial Day, the U.S. flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon. In the morning, the flag should be raised momentarily to the top and then lowered to half-staff. Americans can also honor prisoners of war and those missing in action by flying the POW/MIA flag. You can buy a top quality American Flag at AmericanFlags.com.
Visiting Grave Sites
Memorial Day was originally known as “Decoration Day” because communities honored their war dead by decorating their graves with flowers and other patriotic decorations. Many Americans make special flower arrangements and deliver them as a family to grave sites where they can remember their loved ones and ancestors. Local scouting troops and veteran’s organizations often decorate graves with US stick flags; why not get involved and help make sure that every veteran’s gravesite is properly decorated?
Participating in the National Moment of Remembrance
In accordance with a congressional resolution passed in 2000, Americans pause wherever they are at 3:00 p.m. local time for a moment of silence to remember and honor the fallen. Set an alarm on your phone, gather your family and take a moment to remember the fallen.
Visiting Local Veterans’ Homes and Hospitals
Many living American veterans require long-term medical care or housing assistance, and they can often feel forgotten. The Memorial Day holiday is a great time to let them know that we appreciate their sacrifice and that of their families and their friends lost in battle. Bring a meal to them, play a board game, look at pictures, or just sit and talk about they experiences.
Attending Memorial Day Parades
Memorial Day parades are time-honored tradition in cities and towns across America. Neighbors come together to remember with pride those who sacrificed so much for our country. Bring your children to these parades and use the opportunity to talk about our nation’s history, our armed forces and the importance of freedom.
Experiencing the Nation’s Memorials
Memorial Day can also be an opportunity to visit or read about the national memorials in Washington, DC, as well as local veterans memorials around the country.
Brushing up on Family and American History
Memorial Day is a great time for Americans to read about their family history, look at old photographs, and learn about their ancestors, especially those who died in the service of their nation. It’s also an occasion for reading Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and other historic and patriotic speeches by presidents and leaders of the armed services.
Wearing Memorial Day Poppies
The tradition of wearing red poppies on Memorial Day was inspired by the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields”by John McCrea. War worker Moina Michael made a personal pledge to always wear red silk poppies as an emblem of “keeping the faith with all who died,” and began a tradition that was adopted in the United States, England, France, Australia, and more than 50 other countries. When you see veteran’s feeling poppies outside the grocery store or at an event, think about donating, thank them for their service and take a moment to get to know them.
Thank a Veteran
When you see someone wearing a uniform, a veterans hat, shirt or driving a car with a sticker that touts their military service, take a moment to thank them for their service. It will make them feel good and you, too!