Memorial Day observances?
May 30, 2016 3:35 PM   Subscribe

I feel like we should be doing something in the spirit of the day, but just remembering doesn't feel like enough. What other ways are there, to honor the dead? Exercise a freedom? Do something educational, to help avoid our wading into a future war that we shouldn't? Veterans and others, what would be a good way to observe the day? If you had fought, and not survived, what kind of remembrance would you want?

(This AskMeFi from 2007 has some ideas.)
posted by Baeria to Society & Culture (7 answers total)
Could you get in touch with your local VA and ask? That might be a good starting point.
posted by Tamanna at 4:25 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Put together a care package for a deployed service member on
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:28 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

My son and I go to the ceremony at the Fredericksburg National Cemetery every year. It's only an hour, but it's one more hour of actually thinking about the meaning of the day than most people bother to do. If there is a National Cemetery anywhere near you they almost certainly have an observance on this weekend every year.
posted by COD at 4:32 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

They died and yet we are here to enjoy this country, so it would be a betrayal of that sacrifice not to be out and living and mindful and thankful. So read some WWI poetry and be glad you missed it. Go to a national park and quietly say "thank you" to those who can't be there to enjoy it. Stop by a cemetery and clear off a few headstones.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:22 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd second cleaning up some headstones. Brush off dead leaves and pull a few weeds. I just got texted a photo of two of my uncles tending to their dad and brother's side-by-side headstones. The symbolism of taking pride in a veteran's remembrance is powerful.
posted by bendy at 6:26 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think this is a day for subdued thoughtfulness, so I'd suggest that "just remembering" is not bad. I do appreciate your desire to do more and think that whatever you think is appropriate is just fine.

As a vet who lost a few peers during Vietnam, these are things I do:

1) Remember those guys I knew. More and more as the years pass I also tend to think about folks who were wounded and survived. Today I said a few silent secular "prayers" for a fellow who was a door gunner on choppers in Nam. He did a lot of medevacs and eventually his chopper was shot down. He lived the rest of his life with a metal plate in his head; he battled with demons and sadly, committed suicide in the late 90s. I also thought of the kid I met recently at work--Iraq vet who was wounded and suffers brain trauma from an IED explosion. He's going to have a tough time of it.

2) Thank my lucky stars that my service was non-combat and mostly in Europe.

3) I try to watch a thoughtful war movie around this time. A couple I've repeated on are, "Taking Chance" and "The Messenger." Powerful art forces contemplation.

4) Also walking cemeteries as others have mentioned. Lexington, KY has a very nice one with lots of vets. Many of whom are Confederate which always provokes conflicting thoughts for me. I find it good to wrestle with conflicting thoughts--reminds me that the world is not as cut and dry as I sometimes simplistically think.

5) Silently (and occasionally not so silently) curse corporate entities which try to piggy-back on the holiday in what I think are obscene ways. These citizen-soldiers didn't die so retailers could deceptively think up ways to stick their hand in my pocket.
posted by CincyBlues at 7:31 PM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

It's meaningful to me to observe this day, and I often go to town-sponsored events like wreath layings, but I find it depressing that often they are politicized. If there is a Quaker (Friends) community near you, you might check in to see if they have a peace vigil or something similar for the day.
posted by Miko at 9:10 AM on May 31, 2016

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