Memorial Day is a day to honor and remember those who have served and sacrificed their lives for our country. It is a time for reflection, gratitude, and respect. While Memorial Day weekend is often associated with parades barbecues, seniors and their families can engage in meaningful activities. Here are some ways that seniors and their families can honor Memorial Day.
Attend a Memorial Day Ceremony
Many communities organize Memorial Day ceremonies to honor fallen soldiers. Attending one of these events is a great way to pay your respects and show your support for the military. Check your local events to discover Memorial Day ceremonies in your area.
When attending events with an aging loved one, make sure you have everything you need to keep them healthy. For example, an outdoor ceremony could require water, sunscreen, and a folding chair. And if you can't get out to local events, watch the National Memorial Day Parade on TV.
Display the Flag
The American flag is a powerful symbol of patriotism. Display the flag outside your home or wear a patriotic pin. If your loved one is a veteran, consider flying one of their flags as a personal reminder of their service and sacrifice.
Ultimately, the size and location of the flag does matter. Just make sure you follow proper flag etiquette. The flag is flown at half-staff from dawn until noon on Memorial Day. It should never touch the ground.
Visit a Military Cemetery
Visiting a military cemetery is a solemn yet meaningful way to honor the soldiers who gave their lives for our freedom. Seniors can bring flowers, flags, or other small meaningful items to place on graves. If your loved one is a veteran, they may want to visit the graves of soldiers they served with.
Make a Donation
There are many organizations that support veterans today through different services and resources. Making a donation is a great way to honor Memorial Day and support the sacrifices made by soldiers past and present. If you're looking to donate, consider the following organizations:
Write a Letter to a Solider
Sending a letter to a soldier who is currently serving in the military shows your support and appreciation for their service. You can express your gratitude for their sacrifice and let them know that they are not forgotten. If you don't know a soldier personally, contact organizations such as Operation Gratitude or Soldiers' Angels, which can connect you with service members.
If your loved one is not able to write on their own, you could dictate the note on their behalf.
Watch a Military Movie
Many movies, shows, and documentaries that pay tribute to the military and soldiers who lost their lives for their country. Watching these films can help you reflect on their bravery and courage.
Here are some suggestions:
- Saving Private Ryan
- Black Hawk Down
- Pearl Harbor
- The Outpost
- American Sniper
- Band of Brothers
Learn about the Sacrifices of Service Members
Memorial Day can feel more personal when you know specific stories of individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice. There are a number of published accounts online from individuals and families. If there are veterans in your family, you could spend time asking them about their service in the military.
Join the National Moment of Silence
At 3pm local time, you can pause for a minute of reflection. Wherever you are, you can take a moment of silence to remember and honor those who died serving our country.
Wear a Red Poppy
Red poppies symbolize the blood shed during battle and the hope for a peaceful future. This symbol comes from a wartime poem "In Flanders Fields" written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae in World War I. Wear a red poppy as you participate in Memorial Day activities to show that you remember.
Honor a Gold Star Family
"Gold Star" families have lost a loved one in service to our nation. In our own excitement about a day off, it can be easy to forget about the pain that these families might be feeling. You can check in on them, write note, drop off a gift, or cook a meal for them to let them know you care.
Virtually Visit a War Memorial
If your aging loved one has mobility challenges, you can always take a virtual trip to a war memorial. Tour the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, US Marine Corps War Memorial, and other historic monuments in DC. This is an activity that family members both young and old can enjoy together!
While there's nothing wrong with enjoying the parades and spending time with family at a picnic, it's important to remember the real reason for the holiday at the start of summer. Memorial Day is a time to honor and remember the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for us. Let us not take that sacrifice for granted.