*This post was first posted on BlogHer in 2013.
Did you know that the flag is only flown at half-staff on Memorial Day until noon? After that, it is raised to full staff to represent the hope we have for the future. So what can that tell us about how we should observe Memorial Day?
First, of course, there are customs to be observed, like visiting cemeteries to place flags on graves, visiting memorials, attending ceremonies, and flying the flag at half-staff until noon. These things remind us of our duty to honor our fallen soldiers. These customs remind us to take care of the families of our fallen soldiers. They remind us that there are disabled veterans who need our help slogging through the mess that is the VA. They remind us to appreciate our freedom just a little bit more.
Then, there is the celebration. You see, to me, watching that flag being raised to full-staff is a signal to celebrate. It tells me that our lives should not be spent lamenting the lost. It tells me that we should spend our lives honoring and celebrating the lives of those no longer with us, and part of the way we do that is to find joy in our own lives. Even in the midst of our struggles, we can find joy.
So, today, as you go about your life. Remember the fallen. Remember the great sacrifice they made. Remember why they made it. Take a moment to find out what you can do to help the families of fallen soldiers. Then, celebrate their sacrifice by living as full a life as you can. Do not just walk through your life. Dance, baby, dance.
If you would like to donate to or volunteer with some great organizations that help military families, I would like to recommend the following. If you have a suggestion of a great military charity, please leave it in the comments. These just happen to be the organizations I am most familiar with, or have a special place in my heart.
Our Military Kids provides grants to allow children of National Guard members and Reservists to participate in extra activities while their parents are deployed, and for the children of wounded warriors. They provide support and recognition to military children to reduce the emotional impact of deployments. My family has directly benefited from this organization. They helped send Gabriel to Montpelier for his first archaeological dig, Xavier to Space Camp, and got Dominic started in dance.
Special Operations Warrior Foundation- According to their website “The Special Operations Warrior Foundation ensures full scholarship grants as well as educational and family counseling to the surviving children of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations personnel who lose their lives in the line of duty and immediate financial assistance for severely wounded special operations personnel and their families.” This organization is one that is close to my heart, because it provides assistance that the larger, better known, and better funded organizations do not.
Fisher House- Another lesser known organization, at least among civilians. Fisher House provides housing, meals, and transportation for military families to be close to their soldiers during hospitalization for an illness, disease, or injury.