Memorial Day is often thought of as signaling summer days, warm weather and vacations. It’s a day off from work, a day for outdoor activities, or a day spent with friends and family. In our haste to have fun, we sometimes forget what we’re actually celebrating and remembering. Memorial Day is a tribute to those who serve our country, who have served and who have died, giving their lives for our freedoms.
It’s not suggested that you feel guilty for wanting to have a good time on your day off – after all, what is freedom if not sharing it with friends and family? It’s just a good idea to think a little bit more about what the day actually means.
A great way to do this is by volunteering. Although this isn’t necessarily something you can only do on Memorial Day, it’s an important way to help you remember what Memorial Day is really devoted to throughout the year: honoring people who are fighting for our freedom, who have served our country, and who have given their lives.
As a military brat, this topic is especially near and dear to me. Growing up in a military family, Memorial Day was never just a day off work. It was a day to take our role seriously and to pay our respects to people who had given up their lives or who have fought for our country. So remember what is really being celebrated and take that remembrance with you. Look up your local VA hospital (www.va.gov) and offer to volunteer.
Also you can research military auxiliary and assistance leagues. See what vet-related events they have coming up that you can support with your time or money. You might even be able to assist with hosted activities, parades or celebrations on Memorial Day.
The USO is a great organization that supports our military personnel (uso.org) and they have options for volunteering at different locations world-wide. Through them you can make a care package to send to troops overseas, help welcome troops home, and provide information to military members who are new to your area.
Most people don’t think about these things over Memorial Day weekend, but they’re an important part of the day – and an important part of our culture!