Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer for many families here in the United States. With the long weekend, many families are making plans for the first BBQ of the season in the backyard, the first camping trip for the summer, the opening of pools and amusement parks being open 7 days a week.
The real reason for Memorial Day is to celebrate the brave men and women of our armed forces who have sacrificed their lives fighting for the freedom so many of us who take our freedom for granted most days. I have a rich family history of men who have served in the armed forces and I am proud of every one of them. We may not always think of our retired Veterans on Memorial Day – as they did not lose their lives for our freedoms – but they have sacrificed so much in other areas of their lives.
We thought we would share a few tips to help you honor our fallen men and women this Memorial Day that are simple enough to do with the entire family.
Visit Your Local Cemetery
There are 134 nation cemeteries and dozens of state cemeteries where veterans are buried, but some cemeteries may not have the resources to decorate all veteran graves and honor them properly – especially those from wars and battles many years ago.
Take a moment to visit a cemetery on Memorial Day with your family and “adopt” a soldier’s grave who is one of the forgotten. Bring a bouquet of flowers or a wreath and an American flag to adorn their grave, and take a moment to thank them for their service. You will also give your children a chance to learn a little history as well.
Take Part in Tradition
There is no way you can miss the veterans selling the red poppy of remembrance at various establishments around town. If that’s not your thing, you can always take part in a Memorial Day parade or ceremony.
There is also the National Moment of Remembrance, which began in 2000. All you need to do is take a moment of silence at 3 p.m. on Monday and reflect in your own way to honor our veterans.
Help a Veteran Today
While Memorial Day is when we honor the fallen, you can still show your support by helping a living veteran. Many veterans need assistance – whether with getting to and from the Veterans Affairs Hospital, accessing healthcare elsewhere, or simply having someone to talk to and spend time with them.
Going Back to School – many veterans take advantage of the programs available to them to assist them with going back to school to get their degrees or to simply help train them for a new career field, like the Proud to Serve Again program, also known as the Troops to Teachers (TTT) program, which trains service members to become employed as teachers and serve as exceptional role models for our children as well. You could help a veteran who has returned to school with their studies and perhaps tutoring them in a subject you happen to be good at which they may struggle with.
Transportation Needs – many veterans need transportation to and from the VA Medical Center to receive a multitude of services available to them there. Unfortunately, if they cannot make their appointment, they cannot receive the benefits of these services that could literally make a huge difference in their lives. Set up a neighborhood carpool for the veterans in your area, and let the local VA Medical Center know you’re available to help with transportation for the veterans in your area.
Helping Older Veterans – take the time to become friends with older veterans in your community. Spend time with them or simply drop off some prepared meals that they can easily warm in the oven or heat in the microwave. This small act of kindness will let them know they are appreciated and they will be extremely grateful for your company.
Local Events in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia served as the capital of the Confederate States of America for almost the entire American Civil War, and is the capital of Virginia still today. Richmond knows how to honor their fallen veterans and these are just a few celebrations going on tomorrow around the area for families to partake in.
Dogwood Dell Concert – the James River Bell Ringers perform their annual Memorial Day concert at Dogwood Dell. This amazing hand bell ensemble performs a number of patriotic musical selections. Show begins at 4 p.m. and is free to the public.
Pamplin Park – On Memorial Day, Pamplin Park will offer a special program on soldiers and their personal experiences during the Civil War. Memorial Day programming begins at 12:30 p.m. and the park closes at 5 p.m. This celebration is included in your regular park admission.
Sandston Memorial Day Parade – the parade begins at Seven Pines Elementary School on Beulah Road and proceeds down Williamsburg Road through Sandston to Confederate Avenue. The parade is followed by live music, children’s activities and exhibitor booths. Parade starts at 1 p.m.
Virginia War Memorial – Honor and remember veterans at the Virginia War Memorial on Monday with guest speaker Major General Timothy P. Williams from the Virginia National Guard from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Following is the Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Cadet Corps and Friends Band playing patriotic tunes in the Shrine of Memory at 2 p.m. The Virginia War Memorial will be open until 7 p.m. for Memorial Day.
Never Forget Memorial Run – is a 1.4-mile silent run that starts at VCU and will finish at the Virginia War Memorial just past noon.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – On Memorial Day, the garden offers free admission to military personnel and first responders.
Maymont – Come and see the otters on Memorial Day! The Maymont Nature Center will be open especially for Memorial Day and the Mansion will also be open for tours. Normally indoor exhibits at Maymont are closed on Mondays – so don’t miss out on this treat!
Kings Dominion – located in Doswell, Virginia, Kings Dominion will be celebrating Memorial Day weekend with extended fireworks every night and free admission to all retired and active military personnel.
On behalf of my family, our sincere thanks to all the men and women who have given their lives to protect our freedoms. We appreciate all our veterans and thank you for your sacrifices. We would not be where we are without your sacrifices.