Do you remember your first Memorial Day?
Monday will be my first one. My first big American holiday. My first day off from work! You must forgive me if I seem too excited but, in Colombia, where I come from, we don’t have a holiday like this. We, Colombians, are afraid of memories. Americans, on the other hand, have found a beautiful way to celebrate them.
So, if you’re trying to add a little bit of meaning to this Memorial Day -beyond the BBQ and the beginning of the summer— this might help you.
Here are some easy, but meaningful, ways to honor the veterans:
Visit a local veteran’s cemetery or war memorial
You don’t have to travel to the Arlington National Cemetery. You can pay your respects with flowers or a small flag for the graves of local veterans in your own city.
Watch a Memorial Day Parade
This is a good chance to spend time with your family, while you make your heroes smile.
Of course, I’ll walk through the main street of the American town where I’m living now and I will catch some candies. We don’t have free candies in our local parades in Colombia. Or at least, I don’t know about it.
Learn so you can teach others
The most repetitive thing you can say in Colombia is, “this is a country without memory."
But in the cliché, we hide one of our biggest problems: the inability to speak honestly and openly about the past. Telling the stories of those who died for your country to the new generations, is an incredible and meaningful way to honor your heroes. I wish we did that back home.
Celebrate your symbols by hanging a flag in your yard
This is easy but symbolic, and, as with all symbols, very powerful. In my country, and I’d guess in most of the countries in South America, the American flag is the representation of prosperity and freedom. That flag, your flag, is the graphic image of the American dream. The same dream that brought together more than 55 million Hispanic people to the United States.
Visit a veteran’s home
You can easily find a veteran’s home near your neighborhood, and chat with a veteran for a while and you’ll learn so much with the conversation and you will make them happy. The first veteran’s home in the United States was opened in 1864, after the Civil War, as a way to repay them for all of their work. Now, you can contribute just by being there and saying "hi."
Actually, at WarmlyYours we’ve supported one of those houses with what we know how to do best: giving warmth to people’s life. We’ve done multiple projects with Tee Shirts 4 Troops, a donation-driven organization committed to supporting recovering troops in different ways. We’ve warmed their bathrooms, driveways and bedroom floors. Giving warmth is our way of celebrating this Memorial Day.