By Makenzie Crutcher on May 24, 2022 in Say's Spotlight
When you think of Memorial Day, you likely think of backyard BBQs and time off from work. However, Memorial Day is truly the time to honor military personnel who have fallen while serving the US armed forces. Check out these ways you can give back this holiday weekend.
- Volunteer to place flags on gravesites.
Scouting Magazine hooked us up with some helpful advice, so we’ll share that with you below.
Contact your local American Legion or VFW if you’re unsure where to start with this one because we know it could be intimidating. Another great place to start? Check with the local cemetery director. They’ll know specifically where you can help and how much time is needed. You could even offer to organize a group from your work or school community to go out together.
For this task, it’s very important to know the proper flag placement and etiquette. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, you should set the flags centered, one foot in front of the headstone. The goal is uniformity here, so try to keep flag placement consistent. Also, The Almanac teaches many Americans the rules for displaying the flag, such as it cannot touch the ground, have anything on top of it, be displayed with anything, and many more. In addition to displaying, there are rules for when and how to display the American flag, rules for lowering and raising the flag, rules for displaying it on a vehicle or among other flags, and even rules for how to properly throw away a tattered flag.
Always remember to be respectful. Stay on designated paths to respect others’ space.
- Reach out to a military family in your community.
Your community’s local military families might appreciate thoughtful words and/or kind gestures. Deployment can be very hard on families, so OSD recommends offering to babysit, bringing over a homecooked meal, assisting with home maintenance like lawn or car care, and just being there with general support and an ear to listen.
- Invite a military member over.
Holidays can be an especially lonely time, and not exclusively for service members. However, keep veterans in mind, whether it’s your neighbor, grandparent, or friend. Inviting them over for a meal or celebration could mean the world to them. If you don’t know someone specifically, but want to help still, contact your local Community Relations Office to see who might need help!
- Visit a veteran.
Contact your local veteran hospitals and nursing homes to brighten the days of residents. A great course of action is to start by thanking them for their service and letting them know they are in our thoughts often. If this is your first interaction with a veteran, be sure to read War on the Rocks’ blog guide for how to talk to veterans. Their blog lists questions to ask, questions to avoid, how to best say thank you, and how to bring a little joy to their day.
- Foster a service member’s pet.
Attention: Pet lovers! This is your time to shine. When service members are deployed, they must leave their furry friends behind. We want to keep them loved and cared for while their owners are away, so you can volunteer to foster a service member’s pet. Dogs on Deployment makes it easy to locate dogs (and cats!) near you to foster – they even include the gender, breed, age, distance from you, and boarding dates.
- Write a letter.
These work great for families looking to volunteer together for Memorial Day. Grab the kiddos and supplies and get to crafting. Both cards and letters are much appreciated by current service members or veterans. A Million Thanks collects and distributes millions of letters to both active and veteran military members. According to their website, they’ve sent over 11 million letters!
- Send a care package.
Deployed servicemen and servicewomen are always in need of supplies and comforts from home. So, gather some items for a little care package to let them know they are appreciated. Don’t stress if you don’t know where to find the details to start on your volunteering mission, Soldiers Angels lists numerous ways to help deployed, wounded, veterans, and service people’s families.
So, there is no shortage of ways to give back this Memorial Day weekend. Get out and help your local (or abroad) veterans during this sensitive time. Plus, don’t forget that you can volunteer anytime – you don’t have to wait for Veterans’ or Memorial Day to come around.