- Local Events
There is no better way to start off the day than remembering why it is celebrated in the first place. Your newspaper should have a schedule of start times, but if not, just pick up the phone and call the cemetery.
- Do a gravestone rubbing.
Bring some thin newsprint paper and a thick crayon and place it on the gravestone and create a lasting memory of your loved ones. Make sure you do not apply too much pressure as you may break the gravestone. Some cemeteries and even states prohibit this, so check with the cemetery first. See link below for more info.
- Clean your ancestor’s grave site.
Bring some water and a soft bristled brush and clean the gravestone of your ancestors and those in the immediate vicinity. Make sure you are very gentle and only use water. Some older gravestones may break or crack under too much abuse. And cleaners have chemicals that may stain or weaken gravestones. See link below for more info.
- Place flags and flowers at the grave sites.
This is really a no-brainer. Plan ahead and place your flower order early in the previous week. If you wait until memorial day to buy your flowers, you may find your choices are limited, and the prices a bit higher. Most cemeteries already place flags on veteran’s grave sites, but you should bring a half-dozen just in case.
- Buy a “Buddy Poppy” from the VFW.
You’ve probably seen the little red paper poppy flowers being sold for $1 by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. This simple item has helped raise millions of dollars which goes to veterans’ rehabilitation and service programs and partially supports the VFW National Home for orphans and widows of our nation’s veterans. If you are wondering why a poppy, it goes back to the poem by John McCrae titled “In Flanders Field” which describes the blowing fields of poppies among the battleground of the fallen.
- Write a member of the military.
There are thousands of men and women currently in harms way in Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas. Visit A Million Thanks (see link below), to find out how you can write them and brighten their day.
- Do genealogy work for the veterans in your family.
This is a great time to spend some time focusing on the lives of your ancestors who fought and died in wars. Photograph the gravestones of your veterans who have died; research the countless military records on the Internet; read old letters from the battlefield. Don’t forget to also locate those who may have fought in the Civil War, or before that, The Revolutionary War. Try Cyndi’s List (see link below) for some great links to get you started.
- Fly the US Flag.
Another no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many people do not fly the flag on memorial day. Flying the flag is a great way to say thanks and show your support. Also, if you have a POW/MIA flag, this is also a great day to fly it.
- Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance.
At 3 p.m. local time on each Memorial Day, pause for one minute to remember those who have given their all for us. Participation can be as simple as a moment of silence; ringing a bell or reading the names for each family member who has served in the military and died; or the playing of Taps. (see link below)
- Thank a veteran.
Take time out of your day to stop and thank someone who has served our country in the military. It’s a simple thing to do, yet I’ve heard from so many veterans, that a simple act of gratitude means more to them than most people realize.
…. and lastly you can always make a donation to Operation Ward 57 to help wounded soldiers & their loved ones.