Memorial Day: How to Remember Those Who Served

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Memorial Day is more than a long weekend to play. Yes, it is a three-day weekend and the grills will fire up. And we certainly need some celebration after a very difficult year of loss. But it is a day we recognize those who have died while serving in our armed forces. Honestly, it’s not a day of joy and fun for many families. It’s a sobering day of remembering those we have lost to the sacrifice of service.

If your family has been touched by loss like mine has, you pause, remember and pray. Our brave men and women have given their lives for our freedom. This day reminds us of their sacrifice.

Until I moved too far away, I used to visit my brother’s grave on Memorial Day. When I look at the small American flag placed on the stone, the military funeral rushes into my head. Memories of his body shipped overseas from a foreign land, a closed coffin draped by the American flag and then laid in the ground, flood my mind; the military officer who appeared in our kitchen on a warm summer day to tell us he wasn’t coming home; the shock on the face of his wife when we had to tell her of his death; his two-year-old son who couldn’t understand where daddy was and why he won’t see him anymore; the second born child brought into this world without his father; and the gut wrenching tears and heartache we experienced as a family. Those memories do not go away.

And so, on this Memorial Day, we remember individually but also as a nation.

This year, I urge you to pause from your hamburgers and hot dogs. Take a moment to pray. Consider a donation to an organization that helps families regroup from loss. Reach out to someone who is experiencing this holiday without a loved one. Just the acknowledgment that our service men and women are not forgotten goes a long way.

To my brother Gary, you are missed in ways I cannot express. Thank you for your willingness to put your life on the line so mine can remain free. And to the many that join me in remembering their loved ones, you are not forgotten! And we thank you for your service.

If you would like to do something specific to honor the fallen, here are 10 ideas:

1) Explain the significance of the day to your children.

2) Fly the American flag at half-mast.

3) Visit a war museum or memorial.

4) Place a red poppy on the grave of a veteran (a symbol of the blood of heroes that never dies).

5) Take a moment for a silent prayer and pray for those still in harm’s way.

6) Attend a parade or religious service honoring our fallen soldiers.

7) Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance (pause at 3:00p.m. your time zone).

8) Give a donation to a veteran charity like the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

9) Sponsor a thank you bouquet through the National Memorial Day Foundation. You can dedicate your bouquet to a fallen soldier.

10) Ask your school to be involved in the Adopt a Grave program –the school takes care of a grave of a fallen soldier by keeping it clean and placing flowers on it.

There aren’t words to express the gratitude I feel to those who bravely fought for our freedom. Thank you to all the soldiers and their families for you sacrifice.

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