How to Honor Your Ancestors this Memorial Day

I remember a time when life was much simpler than now.  Spending time with my grandparents during the summer months we’d take time to visit friends and relatives on a lazy Sunday afternoon and sometimes, especially on Memorial Day, we’d visit the graves of those we’d lost to decorate and honor the graves of our dead.  As a child growing up it was a solemn experience as I could feel the deep emotions of my grandparents.  I never knew those buried in the graves we visited but my grandparents would be sure to share their memories with me: memories I still cling to even though they are not my own.

Decoration Day was created to honor the Union soldiers modeled in the manner of respect shown to Confederate soldiers by Southerners.  After World War 1 the name was changed to Memorial Day and the day morphed into a time to reflect on the dead that had passed during all American wars.  Today that day is taken for granted.  Seldom do I see people visiting the graves of loved ones passed.  Rather we use the day to officially kick off Summer: we take holiday trips, have picnics, and spend the long weekend with family.  And this too is important.  However, it is a time to roll back the clock, to put our busy lives on hold, and take a trip – no matter how short – to remember our dead.  There are many ways you can do this without spending a great deal of time and/or money.

  1. Place a rose (flower) on the graves of those visited.  The Jewish people leave a single stone atop the marker to show they have visited.
  2. Place a small American flag alongside the grave(s) of your Veteran Ancestors.  And take a small amount of time to brush the glass clippings and other debris from their marker.
  3. If space/distance is an issue… find their memorial on Find-a-Grave.com and leave a digital arrangement of roses with an expressive thought or remembrance.
  4. Bring up their memory during time shared with your family.
  5. Hang an American flag from your home – fly half mast until noon.
  6. Visit Ancestry.com: they are making military records FREE through the end of Memorial Day 2017.

As a Veteran Marine of the Gulf War I respect and cherish this day of honor.  I have many Veteran Ancestors from Lincoln’s War, World War 1 and 2, Vietnam and Korea, and friends lost during the Gulf War.  Though I remember them throughout the year… Decoration Day is a special day of remembrance.  Enjoy this day.  Honor and Respect Your Ancestors.

My grandparents taught me to honor my Ancestors – this year I will be honoring their memory with a special visit to their graves.  I will be bringing my daughter with me to pass on the memories I have with her.

 

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