Happy Memorial Day!
I hope you have a relaxing three day weekend ahead of you. As I was driving home last night, a senator was being interviewed on NPR just speaking of his busy plans on Memorial Day, and they all centered around recognizing veterans for their service. That’s when what should have been obvious hit me: this isn’t just a day to sleep in and eat a lot.
Regardless of your feelings on war, there should be no doubt that the men and women who decide to sacrifice their own comforts, freedoms, and lives in order to protect their nation deserve to be recognized. It’s a shame that I have so few times when I actually consider it. Therefore, this Memorial Day, I want to highlight three ways that you and I can honor veterans and the families of those who have been lost.
- Use your words
I would venture to say that every one of us knows at least one veteran or service member. Not to mention, there are rare occasions where they are recognizable in uniform (I ALWAYS end up sharing a flight with one). Therefore, instead of just ignoring it, why not intentionally thank them for their service? I know doing this may seem awkward, and I am the queen of awkward. However, it is highly doubtful that they have forgotten their service and sacrifice, so wouldn’t it be nice if they knew that we haven’t forgotten either?
- Companions for Heroes
A good friend told me about this organization that she supports, and it does a wonderful job of meeting two needs! Companions for Heroes pairs veterans with shelter animals who need a home. They also provide service animals free of charge to veterans that may need one. As anyone who has ever smiled while petting a puppy knows, pets are inherently therapeutic, and can help to remove the feelings of isolation many veterans feel upon leaving the military.
- Send a care package!
This is an amazing way to honor people who sacrifice so much. Operation Gratitude runs an INCREDIBLE program that allows people to send letters and care packages to wounded veterans, veteran’s families, and active duty service members. The plethora of testimonials from recipients on their website speak for themselves. Here is one example:
Hello to everyone, my name is T.J. and I am proudly a blue star parent…. my youngest son, J, is a Marine. I am writing to you because he received one of your wonderful care packages back around Christmas. He was in bootcamp at the time at MCRD San Diego. J along with everyone else in his platoon received a care package along with the instructions to not open until they graduate bootcamp and arrive home. The day after graduation (Feb. 12th 2016) we arrived at home (we live in Arkansas) and graduating Marines are given a 10 day liberty… that being said, once at home my son was cleaning out his sea bags and I asked about this box, he told me about receiving it and the do not open till home… I said “well, you’re home… open it”. It was very touching and heartfelt. I read the handwritten note from Jennifer A and I did get emotional. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and everyone of you wonderful people. What you’re doing is awesome and so appreciated. I can’t thank you enough for taking the time and effort and care to let our service members know how much they are appreciated and thought of. To Miss Jennifer A you are an angel. Your little note that was in the box given to my son…. will always be special to me and will be placed in J’s Marine Corps service time photo album that I’ve started for him. Thank you again and God bless each and every one of you. Semper Fi.sincerely, T.J.
So, I hope you are inspired this Memorial Day to participate in honoring our veterans in one of these ways. I know remembering the real reason for this holiday was an important wake up call for me!