For many, Memorial Day means a day off of work, barbecue cookouts, family picnics, and community pools opening for the summer. But as we all know, the true meaning of Memorial Day is much more than an “opening day” for summer fun. It’s a calling to honor those courageous men and women who have served and given their lives for the causes of freedom, liberty, and peace.
Here are just a few things you can do this Memorial Day weekend to honor our fallen heroes.
Volunteer to lay flowers or plant flags at your local Veterans cemetery.
Did you know Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day? After the Civil War, it was designated as a time to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. By the 20th century, the day became known as Memorial Day and was extended to honor all Americans who have died in Military service.
Sponsor a thank-you bouquet.
If you’re unable to volunteer your time to decorate graves, consider sponsoring a bouquet of flowers through the Memorial Day Foundation, which lays the bouquets at a War Memorial of your choice. You can also include a “thank you” message or dedication with your donation, which is delivered with the bouquet.
Provide financial support for families of the fallen.
The USO and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) provide financial and emotional support to bereaved spouses and children of troops who have died serving their country.
Watch the National Memorial Day Concert (Sunday, May 29, at 8:00 pm ET on PBS).
This star-studded and award-winning television event is one of the highest-rated programs on PBS, and for good reason. Tune in to your local PBS station on Sunday, May 29, at 8:00 pm ET to see incredible tributes from artists including The Beach Boys, Renée Fleming, Katharine McPhee, and more. (Click here to see a complete lineup of artists and speakers.)
Fly the American Flag using proper mourning etiquette.
On Memorial Day, fly the flag at half-staff until noon, and raise it again to the peak after noon.
Visit a Military memorial, museum, or monument.
Military.com has a directory of official Military memorials, museums, and monuments in the United States. Take a day trip to one near you to learn about our Military history or to pay your respects.
Watch the National Memorial Day Parade (Monday, May 30, at 2:00 pm ET)
Launched in 2005 by the American Veterans Center and the World War II Veterans Committee in Washington, D.C., the National Memorial Day Parade has been televised since 2008 and is broadcast live to troops stationed around the world.
The 2016 National Memorial Day Parade will be televised LIVE nationally on REELZ, around the world on the American Forces Network, and streamed on Military.com. Check your local listings for additional broadcasts.
Attend a Memorial Day parade near you.
Check the listings here or contact your local government or news agency to find a Memorial Day parade or ceremony in your area.
Observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 pm local time.
The National Moment of Remembrance, officially recognized since the year 2000 by both a Congressional Resolution and a Presidential Proclamation, designates 3:00 pm local time every Memorial Day as an opportunity to pause in an act of national unity for one minute of silence. Many radio stations observe the moment by playing “Taps.”
Post a tribute to a fallen hero on social media.
Do you have a friend or family member who died during Military service? Post a picture and a written tribute to them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram—or all of the above! Tell your followers what this person and their service meant to you and invite others to join the conversation by honoring their memory in their own words.
How are you honoring our heroes this Memorial Day weekend? Tell us in the comments below.
GEICO has been a proud supporter of Military members and their families for more than 75 years. To find out more about Military discounts and benefits you could receive as a member of our U.S. Military family, go to geico.com/military or call 1-800-MILITARY.
By K. Bothwell