How We Celebrate Memorial Day
Memorial Day is upon us. On this day, family and friends will gather together to honor their loved ones who have passed serving our country.
Learn more from three founders and co-founders of organizations that are making a difference for our veterans and reflecting on the meaning of Memorial Day.
The Meaning of Memorial Day
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one in four seniors is a veteran. This fact is a testament to the dedication and bravery of older generations, and also a reminder of how tumultuous the last century was.
The destructive wars of the century may have faded from America’s collective consciousness, but those who were there, and those who lost a friend or family member, will never forget.
Nearly one-million brave servicemen and women died defending the United States during our nation’s history. Memorial Day is an opportunity to honor these Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice. It means that, as long as there is a U.S., they will never be forgotten.
The Wall of Honor
Members of service-connected families, veterans and other patriotic Americans enthusiastically and faithfully mark each Memorial Day.
They leave flags on the graves of our fallen soldiers and lay flowers at war memorials. They fly their own flags at half-staff until noon, and may even pause in their activities for one minute at 3 p.m. in the afternoon to observe the National Moment of Remembrance.
A Place for Mom’s Wall of Honor is an another place to visit this Memorial Day. The Wall of Honor is an online scrapbook where you can create and personalize your own tribute to your beloved U.S. Military hero or heroine.
Create a profile for your loved one, upload special images, and share stories with your friends and family. This scrapbook is free to anyone with a story to share. We hope this Wall of Honor will be a lasting tribute that will evolve and grow as others share their stories and find long lost friends. Honor your loved one now.
What Does Memorial Day Mean to You?
We asked three people who work with veterans to share their feelings with us about Memorial Day:
- Debbie Burak is founder of the nonprofit VeteranAid.org, a website that educates vets and their families about benefits, and advocates for improvements of the VA
- Terrence Thomas (who is also a veteran himself) runs Military and Veterans Discount Centers, a local and national directory of discounts for military and veterans
- David Bolser is co-founder of SeniorVet.org, a service that provides free assistance to seniors applying for veterans benefits
Terrence Thomas: “Memorial Day is bittersweet for me as I tend to look forward to the beginning of summer, but I also look back at my family members that are no longer with us who have served. Specifically, I think about my uncle, a Korean War Veteran, and my cousin who was in pilot training in Tuskegee as WWII ended. The armed forces are near and dear to my family as it was one of the few areas where African Americans could shine in the pre-civil rights era. I look back on the sacrifices my uncle and cousin made for our people and our country, and it makes me grateful for their service. Most important in my book is the fact that they were given the opportunity to showcase what America truly stands for.”
Debbie Burak: “Memorial Day is the day that we pay respect to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending the freedoms of this country. It is a day to reflect on the price that is actually paid in protecting our nation and our way of life. It is sad that it has become a weekend of BBQs and blowout sales without any attention given to what the day really is intended to honor. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”
How Should Americans Honor Fallen Soldiers on Memorial Day?
Debbie Burak: “Personally, I think that everyone should reach out to veteran’s organizations that have activities planned and contribute something in the way of assistance. You can help place and remove flags at military grave sites. No matter where you are in the country you can lend support to organizations such as MemorialDayFoundation.org to help pay for floral arrangements placed at war memorials. There are a number of things one can do or contribute to in order to show support and respect.”
Terrence Thomas: “Saying goodbye and providing final respects is such a private matter. I don’t know what more can be done. In fact, when I look at this holiday, I can honestly say that given the circumstances, it is a good thing that we have a day to honor our veterans and to celebrate the fact they answered the call to serve this great country of ours.”
David Bolser: “I think we owe it to the fallen to remember and honor the ultimate sacrifice that they have made, and to make a conscience effort to seek out and thank at least one of our 21 million living veterans.”
Are We Doing Enough to Honor Our Fallen Soldiers?
Terrence Thomas: “I do not think our country does enough for our fallen soldiers and it is not because people don’t care. It is due to the fact that it is difficult to discuss the horrors of war. I wish we would have more dialogue about the consequences of battle because right now, America is dealing en masse with the psychological impacts of war with the latest crop of warriors. In my immediate family, my father who served in Vietnam, is still suffering the impact that war had on him some 40 years later. Just the other day, he grabs a picture of me when I was two years old at a family picnic and he points to his friend who was in the picture and says, ‘See that guy?’ I say, ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, his head got blown off the next day in Vietnam.’ (We lived in Guam at the time). That still haunts him. I even think from time to time about folks that I served with that died in the line of duty. The most difficult thing is never having the opportunity to say goodbye and you hurt, man.
How do you celebrate Memorial Day? Does your family do something unique to honor your passed loved one? Share your stories with us in the comments below.
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