Gone But Not Forgotten: 15 Ways to Observe Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a holiday that Americans observe in remembrance of those who have died while serving in the military. Its first official celebration was in 1868, and it is now observed on the last Monday of May every year. It has an extensive history dating back to the Civil War, and there are conflicting stories as to its actual birthplace.

Regardless of its origin, this is an important day for Americans to take the time to appreciate the men and women who have died serving their country. From a simple “thank you” to a more grand gesture, there are many ways to observe this patriotic day. Below is a list of 15 ways that you and your family can spend this special holiday and recognize the soldiers who are gone but never forgotten.

1. Visit a cemetery: Whether you have the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery or one that is local, take the time to walk around and just take in the history. Read the gravestones and the plaques to appreciate the story behind each one. Placing flags is a nice way to honor the fallen soldiers.

2. Visit a National Memorial: Across the country, you can find a large number of memorials honoring fallen soldiers. Check out this site for a great list of memorials across the U.S. to find one near you.

3. Display the Flag: This is an easy and patriotic way to observe this honorable day. Fly the American flag at half-staff in front of your house to show your patriotism and support.

4. Attend a Parade:Neighborhoods in most cities across the U.S. hold parades to observe Memorial Day and to honor fallen soldiers. There is also a National Memorial Day Parade held in Washington D.C. every year. For more information visit here.

5. Thank Veterans:Whether it’s someone in your family, a friend, a neighbor or just someone you meet in passing, a simple way to honor our military is to thank them for their service and for all that they have done. It’s an easy way to show them your appreciation.

6. Donate to a Veteran’s Group:There are many veterans struggling just to get by, and many groups are set up to provide assistance and care for them. Making donations to these programs will help provide them with supplies and necessities. For a list of veterans groups, please visit here or here.

7. National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol:Every year there is a concert held at the U.S. Capitol. The show is put on to remember those who lost their lives, offer healing and support to families and to share stories about America’s conflicts. Check out Pbs.org for information regarding this year’s show and guest lineup.

8. Visit a Military Base:There are military bases across the country. Visiting and taking children to see these bases are great ways to honor our military personnel. You can learn about the history, talk to soldiers and gain a better appreciation for the men and women who do this for a living.

9. Visit a Veteran’s Hospital: Take the time to visit a veteran’s hospital and listen to stories from those who lived to tell about those times. Spending the afternoon visiting wounded soldiers and war veterans shows them your appreciation and allows you to learn about first-hand experiences.

10. Visit a Battlefield: If you’re lucky enough to live near a historic battlefield, this is a great place to visit to observe this special day. Placing flags (if permitted), watching reenactments and learning the history of the battle site is a great learning experience.

11. Participate in the National Moment of Silence: This requires almost no effort on your part. Pause and observe a moment of silence, and give yourself time to reflect on the importance of this day. Think about our country’s history and those who fought to protect our freedoms and our lives.

12. Bake Cookies or Bring Flowers to Veterans:Maybe you have family or friends in the military. If you don’t, you can take them to a veteran’s hospital. Just simple tokens of appreciation to say thank you for their service.

13. Host a BBQ or Family Reunion:Invite friends and family over to enjoy the day and to remember the true meaning of the holiday. Share stories, spend time with loved ones and enjoy great food.

14. Visit a Museum:Use this day to take in a museum. There are so many great history museums filled with pictures and war memorabilia. The more you know about our history, the more you can appreciate it.

15. Wear a Red Poppy: This tradition was started in 1915 by Moina Michael. She was the first to wear a red poppy and did so in remembrance of those who died in battle. She also sold red poppies to raise money for servicemen in need.

It doesn’t take much to honor our soldiers and the men and women who have fought and died for our country. And regardless of where you live, hopefully this list has provided you with a few ideas for ways you and your families can observe this patriotic day.