You may not know it, but Memorial Day traces its origins back to the years immediately after the Civil War! Originally called “Decoration Day,” the holiday was started in 1868 when a veteran of the Civil War proposed a day in May to be set aside each year to honor the soldiers who died in that war by decorating their graves with flowers and other remembrances. What started with 20,000 graves being decorated in Arlington National Cemetery quickly became a commemorative event held in each state, and eventually recognized at the national level. After World War I, the holiday came to commemorate fallen soldiers who died in service of their country during any war.
Many communities choose to celebrate Memorial Day in different ways. If your town is throwing a parade, head down to Main Street to join in the festivities. If you’re hosting a get-together barbeque or picnic, take a moment to express gratitude to a veteran if there are any in your family. No matter what your plans may be, here are some ways to commemorate this important holiday while expressing gratitude and loyalty to our great nation.
Send a Card or Letter to Someone in the Military
If you truly want to commemorate this day, take a moment to thank someone who has served or is currently serving in the armed forces. Though Memorial Day honors our fallen veterans, current and former service members no doubt have friends or even relatives who have died during combat. One significant way to acknowledge and respect the sacrifices of our fallen service members is to thank a living veteran for their service.
If you have a friend or relative who is deployed overseas, send them a letter to thank them for their service. If you don’t know anyone in the military, you can still send letters and cards to show your thanks and provide encouragement to our service personnel. Organizations like A Million Thanks or Operation We Are Here can be a great resource for determining how to send letters and cards to military members who are stationed abroad. Check out these and other organizations, then send letters through the group you feel most comfortable with.
-Offer encouragement as well as gratitude. Acknowledge the sacrifices these service members have made and continue to make by letting them know you appreciate everything they’ve done. Keep your tone positive; don’t bring up politics, violence, casualties, or anything else that might be frustrating or traumatic for someone in the military.
-Ask the individual who receives your letters what their plans are for after they return to the US. While it’s important to acknowledge the sacrifices these individuals and their families have made, it can also be very good for them emotionally to have goals in mind that can keep them motivated and positive in the midst of their current hardships.
-Remember that wounded veterans need support just as much as active duty troops. You can find a list of organizations that deliver cards/letters to wounded military personnel here.
-If you have children or younger relatives you’d like to get involved, print out some patriotic coloring pages and have them personalize each one. You can find some excellent free printables like this Memorial Day coloring page from Operation We Are Here.
-If you’re not sure what to write, check out some sample letters online. A Million Thanks has an excellent assortment of sample correspondences from grateful civilians of every age.
-Try to keep up a regular correspondence with the recipient of your letter! Our troops overseas need all the encouragement and support they can get, and they would no doubt love to have a pen pal who can express gratitude as well as offer support on a regular basis. However, bear in mind that many troops in active combat zones may not have the time or desire to have a pen pal. Some organizations are more geared towards recurring correspondences while others are set up to deliver a one-time letter. Go with what you’re comfortable with, but don’t be disappointed if you don’t get a response – your letter will still mean the world to someone, even if they don’t send any return correspondences.
Put Up Miniature Flags at the Cemetery
If you live near a cemetery, one great way to honor Memorial Day is by placing miniature American flags on the graves of veterans from your community. You can buy these miniature flags at many retail stores as Memorial Day approaches. You can also buy them in bulk online for very cheap, which can make it easier to put out a higher volume of flags.
-Check with the cemetery’s groundskeeper first. Some cemeteries have strict policies regarding what can be left at a grave and when things can be left.
-Try calling the phone number listed online or in your phone book for that cemetery and ask if it would be permissible to leave miniature flags for veterans at their gravesites.
-If you have a full-size flag at your home or office, be sure to lower it to half-staff. Remember that Memorial Day is considered a national day of mourning and deserves the respect and acknowledgement that comes with such a day.
Show Your Inner Colors: Red, White, and Blue!
One of the easiest ways to commemorate Memorial Day is to decorate your home or yard with patriotic colors. Whether you’re hosting a barbeque with friends and neighbors or just having a tasteful dinner with family, you can put up patriotic decorations that will show your pride in the United States and honor the sacrifices of our fallen service members.
-You can purchase paper plates and napkins with patriotic themes at your local grocery store or general store. These decorative dishware options are a great way to remind your guests that the day is about much more than just hotdogs and burgers.
-Print out decorative streamers like this red, white and blue paper chain. All you have to do is download and print out the pattern, cut out the strips, and then staple them together as loops that interlace with the other strips.
-You can also print out some tasteful decorations that can even be framed and displayed prominently during national holidays. Search around online or check out these two patterns we found through Pinterest: a musical score of “God Bless America” and a cutout of the country in red, white, and blue with the word “home” written across the map.
-Try your hand at some crafty work with a stencil cutout. You can print a patriotic image or phrase/quote, cut it out, and paint it onto a decorative surface to be hung in your home. For inspiration, check out this great project we loved from Pinterest: this crafter stenciled the Pledge of Allegiance onto a distress-painted board of wood. When printing your stencils, be sure to choose a typeface and font size that will make it easy for you to cut out the lettering and allow sufficient space underneath the stencil to receive paint.
-Create a patriotic phone case for your smartphone! Purchase a clear phone case, then print out the patriotic design of your choosing. You can try an image like a bald eagle, a condensed text printout of the Pledge of Allegiance or Bill of Rights, or just a patriotic design like stars and stripes. Then simply cut the print outs to fit on the back of your phone and insert them between your phone and the case.
No matter how you choose to commemorate Memorial Day, take the time to remember our fallen service members. 1ink.com supports our military men and women, and we believe it’s important to honor the veterans who gave their lives for our nation.
Whether you’re printing out letters to soldiers and veterans or just decorating your home for a get-together with friends, let 1ink.com help improve your Memorial Day. You can save an additional 10% off our already low prices by using the code “MEM10” at checkout. From our family to yours, have a happy and safe Memorial Day 2017.