Like most people, you may look forward to spending Memorial Day with family and friends,  grilling on the barbecue, attending patriotic parades, and playing games. Unfortunately, This year, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing many of us to abandon our favorite Memorial Day traditions.

With this year gearing up to be different than any before, now is a good opportunity to remember why Memorial Day is important and find new ways we to honor it.

Why do we celebrate Memorial Day?

Memorial Day was first observed in 1868 to honor the soldiers who died in the Civil War. However, after suffering the loss of loved ones in World War 1, the nation decided to celebrate all of our fallen soldiers. Now, Memorial Day is a national holiday that commemorates those who died in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Every year, we designate Memorial Day to remember the freedoms we have and those who sacrificed their lives for our country. As Franklin D. Roosevelt declared, “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men [and women] have died to win them.”

How can we celebrate Memorial Day?

Instead of treating Memorial Day as another day off, here are some ideas to honor the courageous men and women who fought for our country:

  • Teach your children about family members who fought for the country by researching more about their lives and where they served.
  • Sit down to screen your favorite war movie.
  • Support military veterans and families by making a charitable donation to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the Gary Sinise Foundation, or the Fisher House Foundation.
  • Send letters to veterans or their surviving spouses to thank them for their sacrifice.
  • Send care packages to relatives or friends who are serving.
  • At 3 p.m. local time, pay respects to those who have died in battle by taking part in the National Moment of Remembrance.

We can still enjoy Memorial Day weekend, regardless of the impact of the quarantine restrictions. This year, take time to remember the meaning behind Memorial Day by honoring those who have died for our nation.