I totally understand why people do not know anything about Armed Forces Day. It is so new; it came about in the 1950’s. It’s purpose is to recognize all branches of the active duty military including the newly developed Space Force. Which kinda sounds like a Tim Allen movie to me, and I am a veteran. What I do not understand is how people do not know the difference or the meaning behind Memorial Day and Veterans Day. First off, they have both been around for longer than anyone currently alive. So yep, how could you live here in the U.S. and not be aware?
Memorial Day was formerly observed on May 30 from 1868 to 1970. Then on June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.
Things that I dislike about the way people “celebrate” Memorial Day here in the U.S. (Side note, it is only a U.S. Holiday.) People have no clue what it is, to most people it is just that convenient three-day weekend. A reason to pull out the boat, the grill, the camping and fishing gear and party. Don’t wish anyone a “Happy Memorial Day” This is not Christmas – Memorial Day was not founded in joy with the promise of bringing happiness and joy each year.
So here are my Memorial Day don’ts…
*Don’t thank the current troops or Veterans. They/we did not die in service to their country.
*Don’t disregard its importance, if not for those that gave All, like my cousin Sgt. Gerald Eugene Du Beau who died in Vietnam, or the men and women who gave all in the wars prior, this country would not exist.
*Don’t forget it exists. Don’t blow it off as just another reason to party.
*Don’t let politics keep you from rendering respect. This is not about politics; it is about the people.
And here are some ways to show respect this Memorial Day…
See a Former Battlefield
There are plenty of former battlefields from wars such as St. Gettysburg in North Virginia and Pennsylvania. If you’re not in a battlefield area, it might be time to watch a great Memorial Day movie.
Tune in to a Memorial Day Concert
Every year, networks such as NPR and PBS will broadcast the Memorial Day concert near the US Capitol. it pays tribute to the men and women who have fallen but fought valiantly to help make our country what it is today.
Attend a Memorial Day Parade
There are parades where you’ll find veterans marching to show off their pride. Take your children and have a great time with the veterans. I’m sure you’ll put a big smile on the veteran’s face. You can also include a Memorial day parade before hosting a Memorial Day party.
Take Part in a Memorial Day Service
Veterans will usually plan memorial service events for other veterans’ families, friends, and the general public during this holiday. They always welcome new guests, so don’t be afraid to stop in!
Raise an American Flag
One easy way to show your respect for veterans is to raise your American flag. This flag symbolizes what they have fought to maintain and earn our freedom. The flag should stay in half past noon position since it’s the tradition.
Visit a Veteran’s Home
Given what they have done for our country, it’s the least that we can do. As citizens of America, we can visit them to help them feel comfortable. Talk with a veteran for a few hours and have your children say hi. Appreciate the work that they’ve done for our country. Maybe bring some food or goodies such as cookies to show your appreciation for them. Make sure you let them know that they are not forgotten.
Share a Picture of a Fallen Military Personnel or Solder on Social Media
You could share a picture on social media of a veteran you either know or a story you’ve heard to help their legacy live on. After all, Memorial Day is for remembering these soldiers who have helped our country.
Go to a Nearby Veteran’s Cemetery
Typically graves are maintained by a veteran’s family members. However if they no longer have living relatives, then the burden is taken by various veteran groups in the local area. Help them out by dropping in with a flag or some fresh flowers to beautify their graves.
Hoist a POW*MIA Flag this Memorial Day
Try to raise the POW*MIA flag as this serves as a reminder about the sacrifices of these soldiers and the loss of their family members. According to D.O.D., there are a whopping 83,000 Americans who have fallen or went missing from the Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, World War II, and the 1991 Gulf War.
Have a Moment of Silence.
Sadly, most people use Memorial Day as a way to get drunk and eat burgers. However in 2000, Congress passed an act called the National Moment of Remembrance. With this act, it helps to honor troops. On Memorial Day at 3 p.m. all Americans will pause and think about the fallen soldiers. It’s a great way to remember and keep these soldiers in our hearts.
Next up, VETERANS DAY!
To me this one is a no brainer. If a person is serving or has served in the U.S. Military, then they are a U.S. veteran, and this is their day. I was always told that it was for veterans not active duty, my Master Sergeant was wrong.
It coincides with other holidays including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day which are celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I. Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. At the urging of major U.S. veteran organizations, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
So things you can do to honor Veterans on this day are easy.
- Thank a veteran for their service.
- If you own a business, give them a discount.
- Buy them a drink.
- Show them respect.
- Raise your American Flag.
- Attend a Parade.
- Visit a Veteran’s home; they will love someone new to talk to, take them some cookies or something.
- Help out a veteran neighbor, get to know them if you don’t.
Finally, ARMED FORCES DAY!
This day is specifically for the current members of the military, all branches. The biggest celebrations that I can remember are air shows and open houses. If you have never been to a military air show, it is incredible and a great way to honor the military.