Memorial Day Should Be Sacred
Memorial Day is generally considered the official start of summer by many here in Chicago and around the nation. Pools will open to the public, theme parks will admit eager guests and beaches will welcome sunbathers to its shores. Not bad stuff, huh? While all of this is fine and dandy, I would like to take a moment and encourage everyone to reflect upon the true meaning of the Memorial Day holiday.
Specifically, I am talking about the brave men and women who have served in our armed forces and gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we (meaning you and me) can remain free.
This isn’t the first time I have written about military matters in a blog post. My motivation is drawing awareness around veterans is bifurcated between the work I do as an educator at American Military University and the other work I do as a counselor.
In both capacities, I’ve tried to shine a light on the very real issues that impact our service members and by extension, their families. Here, I am talking about everything from PTSD to veteran homelessness.
And to keep it real, we see our fair share of military families here at 2nd Story Counseling. I have personally worked with clients who have lost a loved one while in the service of our country. Other helping professionals connected with 2SC have as well. The profound emotional pain and ensuing grief these clients experience is simply indescribable. Their sadness is understandably amplified when children are involved.
And so that’s the motivation behind this post – remembering our fallen service members and their families.
What follows are five ways that you can honor those who have died over this Memorial Day weekend. All are fairly simple and can be done on your own or with other people. Are you ready?
Check these out.
1) Visit a veterans cemetery
A quick stop on the National Cemetery Administration’s website will reveal places where vets rest. Just input your zip code and the listings will automatically appear. It’s a bit of a misnomer that only family members can visit these sites. In most cases, anyone is allowed in. If you have a family member who you know served but are unsure where they are buried, try looking at the Nationwide Gravesite Locator. FYI: Placing a flag on a grave site can be a meaningful demonstration of remembrance.
2) Visit a military museum
There is a military museum of some type in every state of the union. Here is a quick listing of them; broken down by location. The site is operated Military.com and appears to have up to date information on each establishment with links to the connected websites. If you plan on going to one of this Memorial weekend, check in advance for operating hours. (FYI: I’ll be visiting this air museum in California).
3) Fly the U.S. flag at half-staff until noon
Many people do not realize that on Memorial Day, we should be flying our flag at half-staff until noon. Yep, it’s absolutely true. Memorial Day itself is considered a day of “national mourning”. In plain speak; this means the government has sanctioned this as a day of remembrance. FYI – did you know that Memorial Day historically occurred on May 30 instead of the last Monday in May? There’s a movement afoot to try and restore this as the official holiday.
4) Attend a religious service
If you identify yourself as a person of faith, there are numerous religious services for you to choose from. You can check with your place of worship to find out more or you can do a quick search online to see what might be available in your area. Just type in “Memorial Day Services” + “Your City” into your Internet Search Engine (i.e. Google or Bing) to see what pops up.
5) Donate to military charity organizations
There are dozens of charitable organizations that help the families of veterans. One of my favorites is the Paralyzed Veterans of America. You can give money online and depending upon your location, you can also donate items of clothing. If you are interested in learning about other charitable organizations that help veterans and their families, check out this page on the Military.com website.
Memorial Day (and Memorial Weekend) really is more than just the start of summer. To my mind, it’s a sacred moment in time where all of us should pause for a few moments and think about our fallen.
At 3pm (your local time), I encourage you to stop what you are doing for 30-seconds and join the National Moment of Mourning. You can say a prayer, mediate or simply be quiet as a way of showing you remember those who died. These were real hero’s folks – as in the real deal.
On behalf of all of the counselors here at 2SC, have a safe, happy and meaningful holiday! Let’s remember our fall veterans big time.
PS: To learn about the history of Memorial Day – visit this amazing Memorial Day Website.