Happy Memorial Day! I think it’s really important that amidst the BBQs, picnics, and red, white, and blue outfit ensembles, the importance of Memorial Day is not clouded. This is something that I’ve personally been trying to keep in mind, and I’ve made a list of a few really simple ways to celebrate the veterans and those who lost their lives while serving.
1. Partake in the National Moment of Remembrance
At 3 p.m. local time, everyone is asked to pause in an act of national unity (one minute) to give due reverence to war veterans. This moment was established by Congress to emphasize the importance of Memorial Day. Set an alarm on your phone, so you don’t forget!
2. Buy a poppy
In one of my literature classes last semester, we studied a poem by Isaac Rosenberg called “Break of Day in the Trenches.” One section reads,
Poppies whose roots are in man’s veinsDrop, and are ever dropping;But mine in my ear is safe—Just a little white with the dust.
3. Read a veteran’s history
There are tons of stories and books that recount veteran’s experiences. Picking one up is a wonderful way to reflect on and better understand their service. Here’s one from a gentleman who served in the Korean War, and another from someone who served in Vietnam. You can find some videos here with testimonials from WWII and Iraqi veterans.
4. Talk about your own family’s history
My grandfathers each served in a war — they passed before I got the opportunity to know them, and something I think that’s so important is preserving their stories. Memorial Day is the perfect chance to share stories of family members who served this country. Such sacrifice deserves to be documented and not lost in the murky haze of memory.
5. Say thanks
Thank you is the most straightforward way to let veterans know you appreciate them. Remember that Memorial Day is dedicated to those who have lost their lives, while Veterans Day is dedicated to those who have served or are serving. Try to follow up thanks with a few questions about a veteran’s experience — your interest will mean the most!