|Photo Credit: Arlington National Cemetery|
According to History.com, Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May each year in order to honor the people who died while serving in the United States military. This American holiday was originally known as Decoration Day and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many people think of Memorial Day weekend as the start of summer, hot dogs, beach days, BBQs, and other outdoor adventures. But go beyond the red, white, and blue theme you'll use to invite family and friends over for a backyard roast, and think about giving a few hours of service on this upcoming weekend.
Some ideas to get you started:
- Operation Gratitude is a non-profit in Van Nuys (Los Angeles) that sends hand-written letters and care packages around the world to active military personnel, veterans, and their families. I'll be here with a bunch of UCLA Bruins on May 25 to work at the base!
- Local cemeteries might need your help before and after Memorial Day to place and remove flags at the gravestones of fallen heroes. There are sites in Arlington, Boston, and over 130 national cemeteries in need of flags - all of which are placed by volunteers.
- Donate blood or volunteer for a local blood drive in order to help those in need year-round.
- Run a marathon or do something active to raise funds and awareness for veterans and military families; search "Memorial Day" on Active.com for ideas near you.
- Cell Phones for Soldiers is a non-profit that allows you to donate your old cell phone in order to provide free communication and minutes for military service members to call home to their families.
- Visit your local VA to serve meals, sing songs, or just visit veterans to share stories and time.
These are just a few ways to serve, and many of these non-profits are looking for volunteers all year-round -- not just on Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, or other big holidays. Many activities are family-friendly too, so get your kids and grandparents involved!
Do you have other ideas to share? Contact A Whispered Wish to share your favorite service activities on this great May weekend of remembrance.