While the meaning behind Memorial Day has always stayed the same, the annual holiday has slowly morphed into a sort of “commencement of summer” celebration. Whether it’s spending a long weekend at the lake, grilling out with family, or watching a small town parade, many people look forward to Memorial Day being a long, fun-filled weekend. And while pool parties and shopping-til-you-drop is something anyone can look forward to, some argue that Memorial Day festivities have lost site of the holiday’s true meaning.
It’s important to recognize that even though Memorial Day has evolved socially, the purpose of the day is to honor and remember the men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty while fighting for our freedom.
Here are 8 ways you can incorporate honoring the lives of those in the military while still enjoying a care-free and eventful weekend:
1. Wear or display red poppies
- Wanting to honor lost lives in a subtle way? Red poppy flowers are a national symbol for Memorial Day. Display poppies on your front porch and learn how to make a poppy shirt pin out of tissue paper here!
2. Visit a military cemetery
- If you’ve never been to a military cemetery, it’s definitely something you should see. With each headstone made of marble and arranged in perfectly straight lines, these cemeteries can be very powerful and emotional places to visit. Even if you don’t know someone personally who is placed in one of these cemeteries, consider visiting one to pay your respect. Indiana has many military cemeteries, with one being located here in West Lafayette.
3. Donate to a Memorial Day Foundation
- Foundations across the country are dedicated to spreading awareness about Memorial Day, and more specifically, volunteer to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. Most accept donations in order to complete this task. If you’re looking for a great organization to donate to, check out Memorial Day Flowers Foundation.
4. Attend or watch a Memorial Day parade
- If your town hosts a Memorial Day parade, consider attending to show your respect for the lost. If not, tune in to your local TV station on Monday and watch the National Memorial Day Parade, hosted annually in Washington D.C..
5. Fly an American Flag
- Fly your flag at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day to honor fallen soldiers in a respectful & patriotic way.
6. Watch the National Memorial Day Concert
- The National Memorial Day Concert, which airs on Sunday, May 26th at 8p.m., features well-renowned musicians that perform a show as a tribute to soldiers who died during their service. The concert is one of PBS’ top-rated programs, so you won’t want to miss out! To learn more about the concert, follow this link.
7. Offer your support to a family who has lost a loved-one in the military
- Displaying your support to a grieving family through not only words, but actions as well, can be a really great way to pay your respects on Memorial Day. Write a heart-felt letter, drop off a home-cooked meal, or simply spend some quality time with a family or friend who is grieving.
8. Remember the true meaning of Memorial Day
- Of course, there is no harm is spending your Memorial Day in a “celebratory” way to kick off summer. But it’s important to be conscious of the true meaning behind the holiday as it hits very close to home for some. Pay your respects in the best way you can, and have a great, fun-filled weekend!