Friday, May 27, 2016

5 Things You Can Do This Memorial Day

Note: This blog post is dedicated to my late stepfather, Daniel Coyle, who served in the army, Thomas Passmore, my uncle who served in the Vietnam War and is now living with PTSD. Freddy Corter, my husband's grandfather who served in the Korean War, Benjamin Judson Sr. and Benjamin Judson Jr., my great-grandfather and grandfather who served in the army, and Earl Murphy Sr., my husband's great-grandfather. As well as the countless soldiers who continue to fight and veterans who have proudly served. Thank you.

There is an image that floats around every year on Facebook, and each year it strikes me. Here it is:

It kinda hits you right in the heart, right? Between all of the hustle and the bustle of life, we tend to forget that there are people out there literally risking their life, choosing to leave their families behind to serve our country. And Memorial Day is a day to honor them, and so many of us end up getting caught up in whether we're serving hamburgers or hotdogs or if grandma is bringing the potato salad that we forget the whole reason behind this holiday. Don't get me wrong, I am very anti-war, but I believe it is the highest form of bravery to put your life on the line for your country. I was sitting down thinking, and I began to ponder the ways that we can thank our veterans who have served, are still serving, and those who were gone too soon. Here are five things we can do this Memorial Day. 

1. Organize A Barbecue For The Local Veterans

In addition to family and friends, why not organize a barbecue/block party that honors the local veterans? A fun idea is to get a jar and some blank pieces of paper, and have those from the neighborhood write "thank you" messages that can be collected, put in the jar, and read at the barbecue. Everyone can get up and say a few words, even if it is just "thank you," those two little words can mean the world to a soldier or a veteran. 

2. Get The Kids Involved

This of course, depends on the age of your children. If they are old enough to understand Memorial Day (my little guy is 5, and he kind of gets it), have them create a craft or a card that says some form of "thank you," and can be delivered to a local veteran, or VFW. They will love seeing the heart and care that went into that, created by little hands, the next generation. 

3. Pay For A Soldier's Meal/Bill

This kind of falls under a "random act of kindness" category. Recently, my mom, sister and I were dining out and we noticed that two veterans had walked in and sat down. One was a WWII chaplain and the other a Vietnam veteran. It reminded my mom of her boyfriend (who had passed from cancer last year, but was a veteran), as well as her ex-brother-in-law, who is a Vietnam veteran. She kept looking over, and finally got up to speak with our waitress and asked them to add their meal to our bill. She then went over to the veterans and thanked them profusely for their service to our country. But it can be as simple as buying them a coffee. It's the gesture that counts.

4. Clean Up A Soldier's Grave

My husband and I enjoy frequenting cemeteries. Not in a weird or creepy way, but because we love working on our family tree's and genealogy, and we've found quite a few relatives in the local cemeteries. Plus, we are fascinated by the extremely old gravestones. But recently, we were at a local cemetery, namely the one where my husbands grandfather is buried in. He was a Korean War veteran. His grave is very well kept between his widow (my husband's grandmother), and his two sons, as well as my husband and I when we are there. But after visiting his grandfather's grave, we happened upon a very old gravestone, one from the Civil War. We were totally surprised. This was a legit old grave. Moss was growing over it, grass tall around it. So we decided to clean it up a little. This man was a soldier, and it was the least we could do to honor him. So if you see a veteran's grave in a local cemetery that looks overgrown, be kind enough to clean it up a bit. Even in death, they deserve honor. 

5. Donate

There are so many wonderful organizations out there that are helping our veterans. But they need funding to run and to keep helping our soldiers. Consider donating to one of the following organizations that help both active duty soldiers and veterans:

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