Memorial Day might give you an extra day off work, but it offers much more than just a chance to fire up the grill. Don’t forget what Memorial Day is all about — honoring those who have died, including those in service of their country.
Celebrations for the holiday, which occurs on the last Monday in May, looked different during the pandemic than they did in prior years, but simplifying celebrations doesn't lessen our appreciation for those who have passed. In fact, for the budget-conscious who still want to commemorate without the blow-out expense, there are other ways you can recognize the holiday at home.
Write a thank-you letter
A Million Thanks is an organization that connects you to men and women in the military, giving you the opportunity to send thank-you cards. This is an enjoyable activity for people of all ages, so get the whole family involved.
Listen to veterans' stories
Grab the kiddos and spend some time listening to a range of stories from active military members and veterans alike through Storycorps' oral history project.
The Military Voices Initiative provides a platform for veterans, service members, and military families to share their stories. When you take a listen to a few stories, you learn about their military experiences, honor their voices, and amplify their expression of the role the military held in their lives. It's a free way to let them know that we—as a nation—are listening.
Explore your family tree
What better way to remember those who have passed than through a little family history lesson. Ancestry.com offers information on military records, as does the National Archives. If you've ever wanted to learn more about the stories your family has shared about those who fought for their country, what better time of year than memorial Day to learn about their service.
You can also learn about other members of your family's genealogy, or plant the roots of your current family tree for future generations to find and discover about you.
Hang a flag in your yard
Show your support for our troops and those who have sacrificed for our country by decorating your yard in red, white, and blue. During your Memorial Day festivities, don’t forget to take a moment of silence to reflect and remember the soldiers who have given their lives for our country.
Memorial Day is also a time to think of those who have passed in recent years, too. Visiting the gravesites of family members is often a customary tradition on Memorial Day. The unofficial start to summer is often a time to clean and refresh the sites that may have been snow-covered or wind-blown during the autumn and winter months.
Take a virtual tour of the White House
You might not be able to travel to our nation's capital this year, but you can still tour it. Head to Google Arts & Culture for a virtual tour of the historic home, complete with facts about its architecture and important events that took place in each room.
Chalk Art it up, red, white, and blue style
Our sidewalks and driveways are the perfect canvas for boosting neighborhood morale, one chalk drawing at a time, especially on holidays like Memorial Day. Grab your bucket of chalk to create a patriotic-themed sidewalk mural. If you need a bit of inspo to get going, Pinterest won't disappoint.
Pick up the phone
If there's one thing we've learned from those summers impacted by quarantine, it's that connection is what's most important. For many, Memorial Day is a day full of emotion. If you know someone who lost a loved one to war, or who recently lost a family member, the simple gesture of a phone call will go a long way. Offer your gratitude and well wishes and let them know you're thinking of them.