Remembering Our Heroes: Paying your respects on Memorial Day


Across the country this Memorial Day, families will enjoy backyard barbecues, pool parties, picnics or long-weekend road trips. For some, Memorial Day represents the official start of summer, and school children everywhere welcome it as a sign of another school year coming to a close.

The real meaning of Memorial Day, though, is to remember and honor those men and women of the armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and for our freedom. Originally called Decoration Day for the tradition of placing flowers or flags on the graves of fallen soldiers, the Memorial Day holiday dates back to the American Civil War.

Today, there are many ways you and your family can incorporate the true meaning of the holiday in your Memorial Day celebration, while still enjoying the day and each other. Consider one of these ways to pay your respects on Memorial Day:

Attend a Memorial Day event

Many Dignity Memorial® cemeteries and funeral homes host Memorial Day commemorative events to honor fallen soldiers. The programs often include somber and poignant displays of patriotism, with a focus of reflection on military sacrifice. These community events are free and open to the public and are a meaningful way to begin your holiday.

Place a flag for a hero

Several cemeteries feature a dedicated veterans section where many service men and women are buried. On Memorial Day consider placing flowers or an American flag at the gravesite of one of these American heroes. If you have school-aged children, you can involve them in learning about what life was like during the veteran’s lifetime or what military conflicts he or she may have seen.

Volunteer with a local veterans organization

While Memorial Day is about remembering those service men and women who have passed, it also can be an opportunity to express your appreciation for the service of those veterans who are still with us. On Memorial Day, consider volunteering with a local veterans organization to honor our nation’s military, both past and present.

Send a card or care package to soldiers

Similarly, use the spirit of Memorial Day to write a card or letter to active-duty service men or women currently deployed. This can be a nice activity in conjunction with your family’s Memorial Day plans by providing construction paper, markers, stickers, etc. for all in attendance to create cards before enjoying the barbecue or diving into the pool. Or, ask guests to each bring an item to contribute to a soldier’s care package. You can find resources online for delivering your cards and care packages.

Share a personal reflection

While Memorial Day officially commemorates our fallen military heroes, it’s also an opportunity to remember the lives of other important people we’ve lost. At your family’s Memorial Day celebration this year, take a few moments to share personal memories of a loved one you’ve lost.

This Memorial Day, incorporate the true meaning of the holiday in your family celebration by remembering the sacrifices made by our military heroes. As you enjoy good food, friends, family and the start of summer, take a few quiet moments to think about and be thankful for the lives that have made a lasting impression on your own.