Memorial Day was created after the Civil War to honor the dead. Most of the members of the military I know and have known like, or liked, to have a good time, and I see no harm in honoring the memory of people who have served our country by toasting their bravery in the backyard today. However,
"It is the responsibility of the living to make meaningful the
sacrifices of the dead," wrote Stephen R. Donaldson. If you would like to do something more meaningful, there are other things that you can do for Memorial Day.
1. Visit the VA hospital or the nearest nursing home. There are tons of senior citizens, who proudly served our country, who are now sitting in these places. Go visit them. You don't have to know them personally to say "Thank you".
2. Take care of their families. Often, after the initial round of phone calls and condolences, the families of soldiers who have died are left alone, isolated in their grief. Reach out to those families, even if it is just a thank you card.
3. Take care of the graves. The great thing about military cemeteries is that most of them are well cared for. Weeds are pulled up mercilessly, and the grass is kept well-manicured. The same cannot be said for all cemeteries, and not all servicemen end up in military cemeteries. The relatives of the deceased are not always physically capable of taking care of this task themselves, and they will appreciate the help.
4. Donate money. There are organizations that were created to help get wounded soldiers back on their feet, such as the Wounded Warrior Project, or the Fisher House Foundation. These groups do good work, but good works are often expensive. Help them out.
5. Unite. The politicians have us all polarized, seeming to be on opposite sides of...what? I can never figure that out with all the yelling and name calling. We are all Americans, no matter our differences, and military service is honorable no matter who serves. Maybe if we remembered that on the other days of the year?
I hope that everyone has a safe Memorial Day, whatever you are doing today!