For many Americans, Memorial Day is the official kickoff to summer, celebrated with barbecues, a day at the beach, a camping trip, or some other fun use of a three-day weekend. And despite flag-emblazoned ads for sales at department stores and car dealerships, it’s easy for the actual point of the holiday to get sidelined.
At Bullets2Bandages, we encourage celebrating Memorial Day with the respect and reverence it deserves. You can still attend that barbecue and enjoy that day at the beach, but taking time to honor our troops will infuse your fun with a reminder of your freedom and gratitude for those who gave their lives to protect it.
Here are a few suggestions:
Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, set aside a minute of your time at 3pm on Memorial Day for the National Moment of Remembrance. Memorial Day (not to be confused with Veterans Day) is intended to honor fallen troops and reflect on their sacrifice, so take a pause at 3pm to pay your respects.
Attend a parade or commemorative service
Attending a Memorial Day parade is an excellent way to show current and former members of the military your support. Trust us, applauding and waving flags from the curb means more to them than you might assume. And while many cities host Memorial Day parades or commemorative services, you can still watch the televised National Memorial Day Concert on Capitol Hill if your community doesn’t have anything official on the calendar.
Fly the flag and blast the Sousa
If you’re going the barbecue route, make sure Memorial Day is front and center with plenty of red, white, and blue decorations and a patriotic playlist including John Phillip Sousa marches. And of course, don’t forget about the flag—fly the stars and stripes at half-mast from sunrise until noon (to honor those who have died in wars) and then full mast for the rest of the day (to honor living veterans and current troops).
Visit a cemetery
Whether you know a fallen soldier or not, everyone is welcome to decorate their graves with flags and flowers and pay your respects. You can check the location of the closest military cemetery at the US Department of Veterans Affairs website, or find the graves of fallen soldiers at local cemeteries. You can also participate in the “Adopt-A-Grave” program, where volunteers regularly decorate military graves and keep them clean and free of debris.
Volunteer at a VA hospital
VA hospitals are always in need of volunteers, so consider keeping a veteran company for a few hours on Memorial Day, or even taking them outside for some fresh air if permitted. Company is always appreciated, but be aware that some veterans might not be as chatty as others, and many aren’t entirely comfortable discussing their days in service, so it’s best to stick with neutral topics.
Donate to a military charity
The US might have the largest military budget in the world, but social services to assist veterans are still needed, which is where military related charities come in. There are several wonderful organizations offering support and appreciation for current and former members of the military, and donating to them is the quickest and easiest way to honor the troops on Memorial Day. If you need some suggestions for worthy organizations, post a comment below or reach out to us via social media and we'll point you in the right direction.
At Bullets2Bandages, we donate 15% of our annual profits to veterans’ charities -- and for our Charity Partner Products, we donate 40% off the top from each sale back to the respective charity. So take a look at our military-themed gifts, special event gift sets, and other personalized merchandise today.
Here’s to your safety, happiness, and freedom this Memorial Day and beyond!
Posted by Kevin Kelly
Marine Veteran & Content editor and creator.