Tips for a Meaningful Memorial Day Celebration
Each year my town hosts an annual Memorial Day parade. I love our parade as it evokes a strong patriotic spirit coupled with small town pride. Townspeople of all ages gather to honor the men and women lost in our country’s wars.
Spectators anxiously flank the parade route, which begins at our volunteer fire department and concludes at a memorial resting at the tri-corner of town. The participants (our police officers, firefighters, 1st aid responders, girl scouts and boy scouts) excitedly make final adjustments to their uniforms, flags and banners as they prepare to march to the memorial to lay wreaths and flowers in memory of the brave men and women we’ve lost. As the parade proceeds, children jockey for a good position to collect the wrapped candies thrown from the girl scouts to the crowd. Adults kick back in the shade of a tree taking in the experience.
Watching from the curb, I become lost in the moment. I feel transported back to a time and place where the living was simpler and people socialized daily on their front porches, stoops and lawns with neighbors, family and friends. Some might say it looks and feels like small town USA – you could be anywhere across our beautiful country. The common thread - a community is connected and time is standing still.
My family starts Memorial Day at the parade honoring those who sacrificed for our country, and then transitions to celebrating the official kick-off to summer with a backyard party.
Here are three tips for simple activities we’ve enjoyed over the years to combine “reflection and anticipation” – to me, the true essence of Memorial Day today:
1. As part of your decorations, tie yellow ribbons around the trunks of your trees as a reminder that we support our country’s men and women in the military and are waiting for them to come home safely.
2. Set up an activity table stocked with paper, stickers, crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc. and have guests write letters to someone in the military. There are a number of organizations you can contact online for more information on obtaining names and addresses.
3. Plan your own parade and dedicate it to the memory of those lost at war. Simply create a playlist filled with patriotic music perfect for marching. Allow participants to choose from a collection of American flags, kazoos, drums, plastic flutes, patriotic hats and bandanas. Designate a safe parade route (around the yard works just fine, especially for young children), get the processional to fall in line, play the music and begin the parade!
So you can enjoy the activities of the day, here is a “make-ahead” Memorial Day Menu.