Friday, May 25, 2012

Memorial Day: Recap and Remembrance

Memorial Day, the U.S. federal holiday meant to commemorate fallen soldiers, has its origins in the aftermath of the American Civil War.  Known originally as Decoration Day, many states, both north and south, took a day in Spring to honor the men who lost their lives in the bloodiest conflict in American history.  In the century and a half since, the holiday has morphed into one in which all lives lost in all wars fought by the United States are memorialized.

It's important that Americans take the time to appreciate the significance of their upcoming three day weekend.  The sacrifice of service members in the American military over the span of our nation's history serves as the central pillar of our enduring success as a nation.  Without the willingness of the few to give their lives for the many, a democratic nation such as ours would never succeed.

Picture courtesy of The Army Navy Store in Marion VA
With that said, Americans should remember that Memorial Day Weekend isn't a solemn and sullen experience.  It's about remembering and celebration.  If you commit yourself to an activity that in some way exercises personal freedom, incorporates the American spirit, or directly honors service personnel, you're on the right track.

Classic Memorial Day Weekend ideas include:

The Potluck Barbecue: Get together with friends and family in the backyard and share eats along with stories.  Spending Memorial Day with those you love most is an ideal way to honor those who paid the ultimate price to ensure others could do so.

The Classic Parade: Virtually every city in the United States holds an annual Memorial Day parade.  It's sure to focus on those who have served and currently do so, as well as provide entertainment for the kids.

The Weekend Camping Getaway: Americans are blessed with a plethora of natural landscapes prime for exploring and experiencing.  Use your three day weekend to get a dose of the great outdoors, an experience provided to you courtesy of the sacrifice of others.

The Responsible Shopping Spree:  Memorial Day Weekend serves as a sales extravaganza for most retailers looking to free space for their summer arrivals.  If you've been planning on updating an appliance or some other form of home improvement, now may be the time to act.

The Cultural Experience: If you live close to an urban area, then consider visiting your nearest museums, exhibits, and zoos.  These institutions wouldn't exist if it weren't for the enduring success of American prosperity, which owes itself to the willingness of service members to risk their lives when called to do so.

Veterans and those currently serving, don't forget to look up discounts and special opportunities that exist for you and your family. has a great tool for finding deals, while has a 250+ list of discounts offered to service members past and present.

Memorial Day should be spent with the sacrifices of others in mind.  But that doesn't mean dwelling on the tragedy and cost of armed conflict.  Instead, take the time to enjoy the things that these men and women gave their lives to protect.

By: Guest Blogger, Kevin Pearia 

Kevin Pearia is a writer for Veterans United Network (VUN), a source for veterans’ benefits and information.  VUN is proudly sponsored by Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading VA Home Loan provider