What we know today as Memorial Day originally began as Decoration Day and was created after the Civil War in 1868 to honor those who lost their lives during the war. New York was the first state to recognize this holiday; by 1890, all the other states in the north had followed suit. During the first Decoration Day, the graves of 20,000 soldiers who were buried at Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. were decorated by 5,000 people.
While most Americans view Memorial Day today as simply the start of summer, it is also a day to reflect on the memory of those who came before. For those who have previously served in combat, Memorial Day is a day to remember their lost family and friends. This is a good time to check out your local community events pages too, as they may sometimes have activities planned for the day. In communities that offer Personal Care and SHINE® Memory Care, they would definitely have planned some activities for this day.
As Memorial Day looms this year, we’ve put together a list of 4 activities through which you can honor your veteran friends.
Visit Your Local Veterans Memorial
Visiting your local veterans’ memorial can be a somber but meaningful experience, especially if you or your loved one know some of the people who have been laid to rest there. Visiting your local memorial can allow you to adorn the graves of those you have served alongside and take a moment to remember them. If you do not live close to a memorial, you can donate to an organization like The Memorial Day Flowers Association, which works with volunteers throughout the country to lay flowers on the graves of soldiers.
Talk to Your Grandchildren About History
Remembering the past is one of the most meaningful ways to honor those who have come before. While your grandchildren can learn historical facts from class, a textbook or online, sharing a personal story about veterans you knew or a wartime experience can be much more impactful. It is important for the generations proceeding us to know why and how certain things happened, and personal stories can help keep these memories alive. Reading various perspectives on related historical events can also be a good way to mark the day.
Make Some Crafts
Spend the afternoon with your grandkids honoring those who came before with some arts and crafts. Perhaps you can buy some flowers from local florists and fashion a wreath to take to the veterans’ memorial. As this is a somber event, these crafts need not be too flashy. It is the effort that it took to make them that is important.
Create a Care Package
If you know a veteran friend who is living alone and who may be finding the day difficult, creating a care package for them can be helpful. Perhaps this package can include some home-baked goods or a handmade card – something small, touching and useful. If you know that they may be spending the day alone, take the time to bring the package over to them and stay for a while to talk – your care and company may be the best gift you can give.