A close up of a flag

Simple Ways We Can Celebrate Memorial Day

For many, Memorial Day has pretty much morphed from a day of remembrance to a much anticipated three-day weekend with exciting outdoor events that officially welcome the start of summer. But it’s more than that.

A close up of a flag

In fact, it’s not really about a big blowout holiday weekend at all. It’s about remembering our history and those who’ve gone before. Memorial Day is for honoring and mourning the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country—who gave their lives to protect our freedom while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

U.S. history was not something stressed or even talked about in my family growing up. I possessed a general timeline of events but that was about it. All of that changed for me when I married a man for whom our American history is more than a few facts memorized to get past a final exam.

My husband lives and breathes our nation’s history. He planned our honeymoon around visits to Revolutionary War and Civil War battlefields, culminating with an all-day visit to Gettysburg National Military Park.

I was gobsmacked by what I didn’t know. Such an emotionally packed tour I’d never experienced. I learned more that day at Gettysburg than I’d learned about our nation’s history in my 16 years of formal education.

That so many gave their lives to preserve this republic filled me with a deep sense of gratitude I’d not known. To be there—to see this battlefield and to visualize what happened was nearly too much to take in.

“That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.” – President Abraham Lincoln

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with relaxing with friends and family and celebrating the arrival of summer. But I want to challenge you and your family to find a way that you can pay homage this weekend to those who have given their lives for the sake of our country and our freedoms. I have a few suggestions.

Fly the Flag

To be displayed properly on Memorial Day, the flag of the United States is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

As the US Memorial Day website puts it,

“The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon, their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.”

Be There

If you are able, attend a local event or parade honoring Memorial Day. Pile on the patriotic wear and join your local citizens. This year, gratefully, public events and gatherings are back in full force, so get creative.

Pay Homage

Visit a cemetery or decorate graves. Or walk the grounds quietly and pray.

Museums, Battlefields

Take your kids to a military museum or battlefield soon. Teach them about the sacrifices made by so many. Instill in them a respect for the men and women who volunteer to serve their country in the armed forces, knowing they may be called on to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Respectful Laundry

Tuesday night as you take down your flag, consider giving it a good wash. Yes, this is allowed by the official rules that guide us in the use, care, and keeping of our nation’s flag.

Don’t throw the flag on the floor or into a clothes hamper. Respectfully, place it in the washer as the only item in the load, or wash it by hand in a basin or other vessel. Most U.S. flags these days are made of polyester and cotton blend, so a warm cycle with your regular detergent is sufficient. Once washed, hang it to dry in an area where it will be elevated and not touching the ground.

Storage

To store a modern-day flag, use a long cardboard shipping tube or PVC round tube to roll up the flag. Secure with cotton string and store covered with a plain cotton sheet to keep away dust. This will prevent wrinkles and keep the flag ready to use.

Memorial Day is the perfect time to renew our respect, honor, and gratitude for those who’ve given their lives to secure and protect our freedom—and for the flag which symbolizes that freedom.

God Bless America!

 

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7 replies
  1. Sheri B. says:

    Amen Mary! Thank you!
    My grandfather (both) served and my father was a Marine Corp and fought in the Korean War. He lost his best friend to a landmine which my father saw.
    My father always taught us about Memorial day and my adult son and I are going to be with my sister and brother in law for a BBQ and remember what our father and Grandfather fought for!
    Also, my uncle Kenny served, my cousin (2 of them) served. Praise God for the men / women who fight for our Country! May God Bless them all!

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  2. Linda Radosevich says:

    Thank you, Mary! My husband, father, and uncles served in the Armed Forces. My grandfather served on the draft board in their little town. Grandma placed flowers on all the family graves on Memorial Day until she wasn’t able, then my aunt and oldest cousin took over. Years later, one of my younger cousins cleans each brass nameplate every Memorial Day. It’s truly a day of remembrance for my family.

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  3. Kanzamom says:

    Consider flying the flag EVERY day. Remember to bring it in at dusk and never display in inclimate weather

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  4. Pat W says:

    My dad had been in the army and was a commander of a VFW group, so I learned all about that. Then I married a man who missed his calling as a history teacher. It’s important to know what went before so hopefully, we can do better next time. I truly hope this current political cycle ends quickly, so that some of those lessons can be realized.

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