Honoring Your Heroes on Memorial Day

This Memorial Day promises to be a jubilant one. With a surge in vaccinations against COVID-19 — especially among the aging members of the veteran population — towns can again honor the memory of the more than 1.3 million people who have given their lives for the nation since 1775.

The Organizing Blog urges readers to get out and commemorate these heroes while observing proper social distancing to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. Many parades are back after skipping 2020 due to the pandemic, and outdoor activities remain relatively low-risk, especially for the vaccinated.

The unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day is a great time to have a cookout, go to the beach, or shop the garage sales. But you can make time to #honor those who died in service to their country before, during or after engaging in the #summer fun.

Reader’s Digest suggests decorating for the event, visiting a cemetery to place a flag and flowers on a grave, or watching a war movie. You can also observe a moment of silence privately during the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. on May 31.

This Memorial Day, we should also give special remembrance to nearly 600,000 citizens who have lost their lives to a dreaded disease in the last 18 months. (That’s more lives lost than in all of World War II.) And let’s also remember the heroic health care workers and volunteers who are on the front lines of the war on COVID.

While Memorial Day is designed to honor the deceased, you can support living veterans by writing letters to active-duty troops overseas or dropping off treats at the local veterans home. And if there are any veterans among your family and friends, this would be a great time to pay them a visit, take them to lunch or give them a call.

The Organizing Blog feels duty-bound (pun intended) to remind readers that it makes helping veterans easy. We pick up your donations of unwanted, lightly used clothing and household goods and resell them to fund veteran housing, health care, events and initiatives. Gather your donations and visit ClothingDonations.org to schedule a free, contactless #donation pickup.

This year, let’s honor the memory of those we’ve lost in a way that feels reverent and genuine. But let’s not forget that there are heroes still walking among us.

Celebrating the Fallen

One of the best ways to observe the nation’s fallen service members is to donate time, money, and supplies to (living) veterans programs. You can spend time with local veterans, buy a poppy to support the Veterans of Foreign Wars while you watch the parade, and contribute your old stuff to ClothingDonations.org to help fund veterans’ initiatives nationwide. Or—for maximum decluttering and incredible amounts of good karma—you can use the three-day weekend to stage a garage sale, give the proceeds to VVA, and donate whatever doesn’t sell.

The Origins of Memorial Day

Memorial Day has its roots in the springtime observances that began immediately after the end of the Civil War in towns throughout the war-torn country, according to the VA. The first nationwide Decoration Day—a day to honor the dead by decorating their graves with flowers and bunting—was held on May 30, 1868, with its first official observance at Arlington National Cemetery. After World War I, Decoration Day expanded to recognize fallen service members of all U.S. wars, but not until 1971 was Memorial Day declared a national holiday.