Memorial Day. What does it bring to mind? Summer’s arrival? Some people, including myself, believe that many have forgotten the meaning of this holiday.
Memorial Day is an important day on which to remember what has been done by so many to protect this country and others around the world. Memorial Day started in the aftermath of the Civil War as a way to honor those who had died. Over the years it expanded to include the remembrance of all those from all wars where Americans fought. Originally known as Decoration Day, this day is truly a time to remember those men and women who died while in military service.
Some might be exasperated at that thought of being challenged to “do something” to honor this day after all it is a three day weekend and the start of summer, right?
I would counter that there are things, many of which are easy, you can do to appreciate the men and women who have lost their lives while serving our country and to help those who are still serving.
First, participate in the National Moment of Remembrance. It is one minute of silence that occurs at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day in honor of those who have lost their lives in service to the Unites States of America. This is a way to put the “memory” back into Memorial Day. To remember it, try setting the alarm on your phone as a reminder to take a minute to remember those who have given their lives to fight for this country.
Another idea is to gather your family and friends to watch TV! Annually, in Washington DC, the national concert to honor the military takes place on the evening before Memorial Day. It is hosted by actors Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise. Both of these men have committed their time year after year on this holiday to giving back via hosting this concert in our nation’s capital. Check it out as well as the Memorial Day Concert broadcasted on PBS. The concert will occur from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. edt. Tune in to learn about those who have made sacrifice for this country a way of life.
It should be noted that both hosts have also committed personally to giving back and helping those involved with the military. Joe is the national spokesperson for the National Museum of the United States Army and its campaign to raise $200 million to honor and showcase the 30 million women and men who have worn the uniform since 1775. He also supports the Act Today for Military Families which focuses on helping military families who have children affected by autism.
Gary has started a charitable foundation to raise awareness and money to honor those who have served our country and are in need. As his website says, “While we can never do enough to show our gratitude to our nation’s defenders, we can always do a little more.” Think about following the examples of Joe and Gary.
Memorial Day is an opportunity to make a difference to those who have served our country or to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice – their lives. Here are five (5) recommendations and tips on easy ways to Make A Difference® (M.A.D.):
- Fly the American flag at half-staff until noon in honor of those who have lost their lives while serving for the United States; then again raising it high once again.
- Visit a VA Hospital or senior center where they are veterans; listen to their stories
- Visit a cemetery and read the headstones of those who have died for our freedom; think about what their sacrifice means to you!
- Attend the Memorial Day activities in your community. Go to your hometown’s website to learn about any activities that may be going on. Most have a parade or some sort of commemoration; take the young people in your life with you to begin passing on the importance of this holiday.
- Make a charitable donation to a nonprofit doing work with veterans. I strongly recommend the Wounded Warrior Project, Operation Homefront.
Bonus Tip #1: Take time to write a letter or send a package to someone who is serving or take a veteran with you to the activities you attend on Memorial Day, such as a parade or picnic.
Bonus Tip #2: Are you considering taking one of the days to do spring cleaning? If so, and you find old cell phones that are not being used in drawers and boxes, consider donating them to Cell Phones for Soldiers; for each cell phone donated, this organization sends calling cards to soldiers stationed throughout the world so they can call home.
Serving in our military is a great honor but comes with much sacrifice for both the soldier and the family. Freedom is a hard fought battle that occurs on daily basis. Pay tribute to our military men and women, as well as their families by honoring and remembering those who have served and continue to serve.
Let’s make this Memorial Day 2014 a time to remember the more than 2 million men and women serving daily. By taking action on any of the recommendations in this blog, you will join Joe Mantegna, Gary Sinise and thousands of others who definitely want to be M.A.D. (Making A Difference) for those who have done so much for our country! Are you M.A.D. today?
Happy Memorial Day!