“It’s Daddy’s turn to keep us safe”. I lost count of how many times during my spouse’s deployment I tried to explain to my four-year-old her father’s absence in terms she could understand. Taking turns is an important lesson in any toddler’s life, and this resonated with my daughter. When I imagine the families whose loved ones turn never ended; who gave their life in the line of duty, I am truly at a loss for words. It is with these feelings of humble appreciation that I approach Memorial Day with a grateful heart to all who have given the ultimate sacrifice and to their families who live on preserving their memory.
How can we make a difference and recognize the sacrifices of these brave men and women? To me, it is through action. Here are three ways you can #HonorThroughAction this Memorial Day:
1. Volunteer and Get Involved
Look up the closest National Cemetery through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs website and give your time placing flags and flowers on graves.
Reach out to the organizers of your local Memorial Day Events (parades, memorial runs, etc). They may need assistance preparing for the parade, or have various jobs to help with during the festivities.
Carry The Load, founded in 2011 by two Veteran Navy SEALs, is a non-profit dedicated to providing active, meaningful ways to honor and celebrate the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes. Learn more about their organization and how you can participate here.
The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) provides care and support to those who have a lost a loved one in the military. This Memorial Day, consider giving back to the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
2. Share or Listen
You can experience USAA’s virtual reality tribute, inspired by the poem, “In Flanders Fields”. Take a walk through each of America’s conflicts since WWI, then #HonorThroughAction by dedicating a poppy to a fallen hero. The experience also allows you to read other’s unique dedication messages as you add your own in memory of a fallen service member and/or veteran who has passed.
Reach out to a Gold Star Family (the family of a fallen service member). Show your support by sharing a memory or asking about the fallen hero to help honor their memory. (You can find a local Gold Star Family information by searching “Gold Star Family and your zip code”
Take time to get to know some of the heroes who have given their lives for our freedom.
The Fallen by Military Times, honors those who fought and died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
Take time to visit or research the different war memorials. This traveling memorial features the life and stories of post 9/11 fallen service members.
If you live in the DC area, make plans to visit USAA’s mobile Poppy Memorial Wall that will be located on the National Mall from May 24-28th.
It is now our turn to take time to give thanks and show respect for the ultimate sacrifice given by these brave service members. The suggestions for showing your appreciation above do not only apply to Memorial Day. With a little research and time, you can find ways to #HonorThroughAction year-round.
How do you plan to #HonorThroughAction?
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