The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is Memorial Day. Some people do not know what Memorial Day is, and other get confused about Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
The two holidays are similar because they are both national holidays that honor people who have served our nation in the military services. They are different in that the honored groups are different are somewhat different.
Memorial Day is a day to remember those service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice and died while serving their nation. Veterans Day honors all service men and women who served in the Armed Forces in any war, both the living and the dead. There is a third holiday that is not a national holiday or well known. It is Armed Forces Day, a day when we honor the men and women who are currently serving in the Armed Forces of our nation.
An easy way to remember the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day can be found in their names. When we think of Memorial Day, we should look at the first three letters of the name – M E M – or think of a variation of the word – memory. We want to remember those who died to protect and preserve our nation. The same thing is true of Veterans Day. We should look at the first three letters of the name – V E T – and remember that “vet” or “vets” is a shortened form of veteran(s) – those who served in the wars of our nation. In the same way, Armed Forces Day says it all in its name.
There are numerous ways that we can remember and honor those who died in our service. One of the most important ways is to fly the American flag proudly. It stands for great Americans who live and die for our nation and to help people everywhere. Instead of simply putting the flag up, we can have a small ceremony where we say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the nation anthem. If possible, the flag should be flown at half-staff.
It is a good day for children to draw and/or color their own American flag on construction paper. The flag can then be stapled to a straw for flying, or it can be taped in their bedroom window to show other people.
In a normal year, we could visit a national cemetery and pay respect at the graves of individual fallen heroes. Cemeteries or veteran associations often have programs to mark the day. I have attended programs that honored veterans that were held on the Park Strip in downtown Anchorage. Memorial Day is a somber but important day for children to be taught that people bravely die protecting our country.
We can prepare a care package to send to a soldier. These living heroes appreciate being remembered as they risk their lives for the cause of freedom. We can connect with soldiers who are currently serving at Any.Soldier.com.
We can prepare our meal and decorate our table with the national colors of red, white, and blue. I have seen desserts and cakes decorated like a flag, and strawberries and blueberries seem to be the favored fruits to use. We can make the day extra special by inviting a veteran to honor and to spend the day or evening.
We can read books about American history, and we can find them for all ages. I am currently reading a historical novel series with five or six volumes that covers the Revolutionary War era. The title is Prelude to Glory by Ron Carter, and the series strongly suggests that the colonists had divine help in winning the war and setting up a free nation. The author does not present the main events of the war in a chronological order because things were often happening in several places at the same time. So, he took each major event and carried it to its conclusion using selected real and fictional characters to tell the story. Then he goes back and picks up another event and tells its story. He weaves all the events together through the experiences of fictional characters.
I hope that you will do something to remember the men and women who fought and died to protect and preserve America. As I am still isolating myself with my husband, I will hold a brief memorial ceremony to honor the fallen heroes. I hope that the rain currently falling will stop, so I can fly my flag outside.