Remembering what Memorial Day is All About

Constance Smith

Everyone loves a good barbecue or cook out and it seems like Memorial Day weekend has become the official launch of the summer food season. You see grilling segments on the news, picnic and barbecue products on sale at the stores and recipes galore to serve at your outdoor celebrations. We all love a picnic; I know I do! But before you hang your decorations, plan the menu and send out the invitations, take a moment to reflect on what Memorial Day actually is.

Memorial Day is the day that our nation has set aside to honor those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy. Freedoms like the ability to have a picnic with friends, to engage in a political conversation without fear or to worship however you wish, or not worship at all. It started in the late 1800’s as Decoration Day – a day to decorate the graves of the war dead. Over time it grew and became a federal holiday in 1968 when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. It went into effect in 1971 and established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May.

Take the time this Memorial Day to commemorate and honor those who have served and left loved ones behind. Remember those who have paid it all for us. There are a number of ways that we can take that remembrance and turn it into action. And while we can’t always find a way to honor those that have fallen, we can certainly honor them by doing something for those who served alongside them or are still serving.

Here are five ways to celebrate Memorial Day with meaning:

Teach Your Children
Before pulling out the swimming suits and blow-up pools, take the time to teach your children what Memorial Day is about. It is up to us to make sure these men and women are remembered and honored. It all starts at home in teaching the next generation.

Give a Veteran a Ride
The Disabled Veterans of America has a program where they help provide transportation for veterans to and from VA appointments. You can offer your own services and help drive them, not just around Memorial Day, but all year long.

Give Wings
If you travel often for your work and have accumulated travel miles, you can donate your miles. The Fisher House Foundation has a network of homes around the country where they house family members near hospitals when their military member is being treated for injury or disease. You can donate your travel miles to their Hero Miles Program and help bring families to the bedsides of their service members.

Take Flight Together
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, about 640 WWII veterans pass away every day. You can volunteer to escort these men and women on flights to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington DC. The Honor Flight Network is always looking for support for this effort, and will be adding Korean and Vietnam War veterans to the list that they are helping make this journey in the future.

Hang a Flag
Not only should you of course hang a flag on your home or in your yard for Memorial Day, but you can hang many more flags as well. Find your local Veterans groups and see who is putting out the Memorial Day flags on the graves of veterans. Volunteer your time to help out. While you are out there, ask about the wreaths that are placed in November for Veterans’ Day. That is another great time to honor these men and women who have given so much.

Thank you for taking the time to celebrate and honor our nation’s heroes this Memorial Day weekend.

Constance J Smith is a professional blogger, recipe developer and “seasoned” army wife. She has maintained an active website since 1998 and has been blogging since 2006. Anywhere Constance goes, she chronicles her journey with her readers – from creating family-friendly recipes to hiking in the wilderness of Alaska. Portions of her content have been published in local and national print.


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