Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, is much more than a simple day off from work or school. Instead, it is a day of remembrance for those brave men and women who gave their lives for our nation’s freedom. It is a day when we remember, express gratitude, and celebrate patriotism.

With Memorial Day approaching, many of us would like to acknowledge this important day meaningfully. At the same time, with barbecues, pool parties, and the unofficial start of summer right around the corner, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, using this checklist, you can plan a Memorial Day that honors our heroes while also enjoying quality time with family and friends.

Remembering the Fallen

  • Visit a cemetery. Consider paying your respects at a local cemetery, particularly in sections dedicated to veterans. If possible, take part in ceremonies to lay wreaths or place flags on veterans’ graves.
  • Attend a Memorial Day service. It is common for communities to hold memorial services, parades, or gatherings on Memorial Day. As a member of your community, you can honor the fallen together by attending one.
  • Learn about a local hero. You can find out more about a war hero in your town or county by searching online. Let your family and friends know about their story so their memory will never be forgotten.
  • Honor veterans, you know. Consider reaching out to a veteran in your community, a friend, or a family member. Let them know that you appreciate their service and share the stories of those who have served.

Educating Yourself and Others

  • Explore Memorial Day history. Throughout the month, discover the origins of Memorial Day. For example, discover how Decoration Day evolved into the national holiday we know today. If you’re interested in finding out more about the holiday, is a great resource.
  • Watch a movie or documentary. Numerous documentaries explore the realities of war and its profound impact on veterans. Choose one that resonates with you and share it with others “Arlington: In Eternal Vigil” or “Until They Are Home”. You can also watch films like “Glory,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Dunkirk,” “Platoon,” or “Black Hawk Down.”
  • Read a war memoir. Take a step into the shoes of a veteran by reading a first-hand account of their experience. A powerful insight can be gained from memoirs such as Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken, a World War II Story of Survival, resilience, and Redemption,” Siegfried Sassoon’s “Memoirs of An Infantry Officer,” or Glyn Haynie’s “When I Turned Nineteen: A Vietnam War Memoir.”
  • Discuss with your family. Talk to your children about Memorial Day in an age-appropriate manner. Briefly explain what this day means and what veterans have sacrificed. Also, you can encourage your children to participate in school assemblies. Or, you can help them make poppy pins, wreaths, and thank-you cards for veterans.

Taking Action and Volunteering

  • Donate to veteran charities. Support organizations that provide job training, mental health support, and housing assistance to veterans.
  • Volunteer at a VA Hospital. Visit a VA hospital to spend time with veterans. Listen to their stories, provide companionship, or assist in recreational activities. The VA’s website has information about volunteering at your local VA Hospital.
  • Help maintain local memorials. Many war memorials in communities need upkeep. With your help, these memorials can be cleaned, maintained, or beautified.
  • Participate in a community service project. In honor of those who served, give back to your community. Become a volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or other organization that aligns with your values.

Spreading Awareness and Gratitude

  • Display the American flag. Over Memorial Day weekend, display the American flag proudly outside your home. However, make sure it is displayed properly according to flag etiquette. If you’re unsure, the Department of Veterans Affairs has instructions.
  • Thank a veteran. Do you know a veteran? Thank them for their service and express your gratitude. Let them know how much you appreciate their sacrifice by sharing a story you’ve heard about their service.
  • Post on social media. Share heartfelt or informative messages about Memorial Day on social media. Use relevant hashtags, such as #memorialday, #honorourvets, or #remembrance, to raise awareness and encourage others to remember our heroes.
  • Write a letter to a deployed soldier. There are organizations such as Soldier’s Angels that connect civilians with deployed soldiers. Express your gratitude to the soldiers and offer them encouragement.
  • Ship care packages to deployed troops. Organizations like Any Soldier Inc. and Soldiers’ Angels collect and distribute care packages to deployed troops. Sending a package containing food, toiletries, and letters of appreciation can significantly boost morale.
  • Wear red poppies. It has long been a tradition for red poppies to be used during Memorial Day as a symbol of remembrance. Wearing a red poppy pin is an easy way to show your respect.

Moments of Reflection

  • Attend a candlelight vigil. On the eve of Memorial Day, many communities hold candlelight vigils. It is at these somber gatherings that we can reflect and remember.
  • Visit a war memorial. If you live near a war memorial or veteran’s museum, you should visit it. Take the time to learn about the history of war and the sacrifices that our soldiers made.
  • Have a moment of silence. Take part in the National Moment of Remembrance on Memorial Day at 3:00 p.m. local time. To honor those who have fallen, please pause for a moment of silence.
  • Take time to reflect. Consider taking some time for personal reflection. Think about what Memorial Day means to you and how you can honor our heroes throughout the year.

Creating a Memorable Gathering

Attend a memorial service on Memorial Day.

Communities often hold parades, speeches, and other ceremonies to honor fallen soldiers. Attending one of these events is a great way to show your respect.

Host a Memorial Day cookout.

There is something universal about food that brings people together. Get the grill going, prepare some delicious dishes, and invite your friends and family for a potluck.

Take a trip to the beach.

As the weather starts to warm up by Memorial Day, it’s the perfect time to head to the beach. Build a sandcastle, go for a swim, or simply relax on the sand.

Go camping.

Camping is a great activity for Memorial Day weekend. Find a campground near you to enjoy the great outdoors.

Have a picnic in the park.

Pack a lunch and head to the park for a picnic. Enjoy the fresh air while playing games, throwing frisbees, or just relaxing.

Go for a hike or bike ride.

Take a hike or bike ride to get some fresh air and exercise. Many parks and trails will be open during Memorial Day weekend.

Attend a baseball game.

It is another American tradition to play baseball on Memorial Day, as it is played by both minor league and major league teams in many cities.

Visit a national park for a day.

On Memorial Day weekend, many National Parks are free to enter. Enjoy the beauty of our country, which so many have given their lives for, by spending the day outside.

Share stories of those who served.

Ask your guests to share stories about veterans they know or family members who have served. It is a great way to learn more about history, as well as keep the memory of our fallen heroes alive.

Remembering with Respect

  • Memorial Day vs. Veterans Day. Understanding the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day is important. While Memorial Day honors those who died while serving our country, Veterans Day honors all veterans, living and dead.
  • Etiquette at cemeteries. Remember to maintain a respectful demeanor at veteran’s cemeteries. Be respectful of the cemetery by not talking loudly, walking on plots, or touching gravestones.
  • Keep it respectful. While Memorial Day can be a time for celebration, it is important to remember its true meaning. Make sure you don’t overdo the decorations or trivialize the sacrifices of our fallen soldiers.

Beyond the Checklist

While this checklist provides a framework for honoring our heroes, they are truly honored through our everyday actions. You can show appreciation in a variety of ways, including:

  • Give a boost to veteran-owned businesses. By patronizing veterans-owned businesses, you can show your support.
  • Hire veterans. When you are hiring at your business, you should take veterans’ skills and experience into consideration.
  • Advocate for veterans’ rights. Become familiar with veterans’ issues and advocate for policies that will benefit them.


Memorial Day is more than a day off or a beginning of summer barbecues. The occasion marks a solemn remembrance of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. You are responsible for honoring their sacrifices and ensuring their legacy lives on by following this checklist.

Remember, honoring our heroes doesn’t need to be grand. Even small acts of remembrance and gratitude can make a significant difference. Let’s take a moment to remember those who gave their lives to protect our freedom.


What is Memorial Day?

In the United States, Memorial Day honors those who died while serving in the military. On this day, we honor their sacrifices and thank them for their service.

When is Memorial Day?

Every year, Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May.

What is the history of Memorial Day?

The holiday was originally called Decoration Day to honor those who died in the Civil War. However, it wasn’t declared a federal holiday until 1971.

Is Memorial Day the start of summer?

Unofficially, yes!

Memorial Day weekend often signals the beginning of summer cookouts, beach trips, and other warm-weather activities. However, the summer solstice, the astronomical start of summer, happens in late June.

How can I observe Memorial Day?

It is possible to observe Memorial Day in many ways. A few ideas are listed below:

  • Place a flag on a grave in a veteran’s cemetery.
  • Participate in a Memorial Day parade or ceremony.
  • Become a volunteer at a veterans’ organization.
  • Discover the history and meaning of Memorial Day.
  • To honor those who have passed away while serving, will observe a moment of silence at 3 PM.
  • Flags should be flown at half-staff until noon, then raised to their highest position.

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