Memorial Day for many of us is the unofficial starting line of summer—we celebrate longer days and warmer weather with backyard cookouts, freshly filled pools, and trips to the beach. And even if we have to continue working through the season, it’s easy to adopt a “School’s Out for Summer!” mentality, even if just for the weekend.

But as we all know, Memorial Day is so much more than a celebration of nice weather. It’s an official holiday where we pause as a Nation to remember and honor the American service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. It’s a time removed from current events, political agendas, and controversy. Above all, Memorial Day is a time of reflection and gratitude that reaches back to the Civil War, and pays tribute to the nearly 2 million Veterans who have given their lives in service.

“Memorial” is a formal word and invokes a somber mindset. What’s more, the act of remembrance is not always convenient. But on this Memorial Day, we implore you to take pause from celebrations and remember. Throughout history, one of the most effective ways we remember is by telling a story. 

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Most Americans have a story to share or a memory they hold dear about a Veteran—share it. Whether it’s a passed-down tale of a family member’s heroics in World War II, a story of unlikely friendship forged during deployment, or a heart-warming viral video, Veterans touch our lives everyday in personal, powerful ways. Let’s keep the memories alive!

Observing Memorial Day

Display your American Flag: “On Memorial Day the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes.” (Source)

Will you be in the Nation’s capital this weekend? Visit Arlington National Cemetery for a special wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at 11am.

Otherwise, consider a trip to one of the over 130 National Cemeteries throughout the country. 

Don a “Buddy Poppy” – a tradition that started with the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Colonel John McCrae, and continues today as a tribute to fallen comrades. 

Check your local newspapers and news channels to learn about parades and events in your area.

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