The brave people who fight for this country deserve ongoing admiration to keep their legacy alive. While Memorial Day is a time to honor the fallen people who died while serving in the U.S. Military, this isn’t the only time that you can pay respects.
Taking a small pause throughout the year to remember the dead, respect their contribution to our daily freedoms, and continue their legacy is essential. It brings the nation together and reminds us of what’s really important. There are a lot of easy ways to honor fallen veterans all year long. Create special tributes in your own life with these ideas below.
1. Read Veteran Stories
If you’ve never fought in a war or served in the military, it’s hard to understand this experience. Books and stories are a way to walk in someone else’s shoes, especially when those shoes are so unlike our own.
Take some time to acknowledge and pay tribute to veterans’ lives by reading their stories. Learn from those who walked alongside fallen servicepeople. Hear what they have to say and learn from it. We could all benefit from widening our horizons.
2. Make a Patriotic Playlist
To help center your thoughts around the fallen, create a playlist that suits the mood. There are a number of military tribute songs to spark pride.
These not only honor those who lost their lives, but they also help you remember your favorite things about the place you live. A playlist is a simple reminder you can take on the go.
3. Visit a National Cemetery or Military Cemetery
National and military cemeteries are reserved for veterans, and it’s the perfect place to pay your respects. Visiting a cemetery or national cemetery can be a peaceful, rewarding experience. Take some time to wander through the grounds, reading the names of those who fell in the line of service.
If possible, bring small tributes. You could bring a small flag for a gravesite, or you could spread flowers. When in doubt, a donation to the cemetery helps maintain the grounds and keep them looking their best.
4. Talk to Those Who Served
Another idea that’s very simple is to talk to those who served. Whether they served recently, long ago, or are still in active service, this is a great tribute to those who are no longer here.
Take the time to learn about their experience and perspective. Have they lost anyone along the way? Would they like to talk about their memory? These are the conversations that keep legacies strong.
5. Learn Your Families History
You don’t need to be a genealogy expert to begin exploring your family’s history. If you travel back in time through generations, you might discover that you were related to a veteran. Thousands of soldiers were drafted in the nation’s biggest wars. It’s likely you have some relatives who served.
By learning your family history, you revive these memories of those who are no longer here. You also gain an important perspective on the importance of service. You never know what stories you might find.
6. Watch a Military Film
While a lot of people avoid military-themed films because they usually cover challenging topics, it’s worth watching one from time to time. While many of these are glamorized by Hollywood, some stand out as accurate depictions of military life.
Watching a film that pays tribute to the people who made the ultimate sacrifice. Films about war, the front lines, and everything in between are a great way to feel connected to these memories.
7. Make a Donation
Sometimes the best contributions come from your wallet. If you can afford to do so, making a donation helps you recognize the difference everyone can make. Donating to organizations that help veterans, military families, or other groups that matter to you is one of the best things you can do.
There are a number of charities, both national and local, worth donating to. Here are some suggestions:
8. See the Fallen
Though it’s hard to confront the realities of our fallen troops, this is a highly rewarding process. The Military Times dedicates a section of their website to the fallen people who served in many of the recent military operations overseas.
By visiting online, you can click through the stories and faces of those who died in service. Hearing the stories from the families and local news makes the reality of those who gave their lives in service all the more real.
9. Fly the USA Flag
A simple way to honor the deceased is to fly the flag. This is a popular way to recognize fallen soldiers. During military holidays like Memorial Day, the flag is raised at half-staff from dawn to noon.
A flag is the ultimate symbol of American freedom and independence. No matter your beliefs about politics, this is a way to offer support to those who serve, their families, and their sacrifice.
10. Visit a Military Museum
You don’t need to be in the country’s capital to visit a military museum. These exist in all shapes and sizes across the country, and they’re a great way to learn more about the military.
Whether you’re interested in history, those who served, or how you can help, a military museum is a great first step. Bring the entire family for an educational activity, or just visit yourself to quietly reflect.
11. Write a Tribute
If you lost someone to military conflict, share their story. Become an advocate for veterans and other service people. Sharing a personal tribute online might seem small, but this has a big impact.
Share videos, photos, memories, and your own words. Welcome your other friends and family to contribute as well. An online memorial tribute is something that lives on forever. By speaking up, you’ll encourage others to tell their own stories.
12. Light a Candle
Candles are a way to honor someone’s memory around the world. You’ll find them in churches, religious centers, and cemeteries. However, you can also light a candle at home or even virtually.
A lit candle is a symbol of someone’s shining light, something that’s much brighter than death. By focusing on this small image, you’re taking a moment of quiet reflection to honor the life of someone you care about. Whether you’re lighting a candle in honor of someone specific or all fallen veterans, this is a true act of kindness.
13. Write a Thank You Note
If you don’t know anyone who served in the country personally, it might feel intimidating to honor fallen veterans. You can brighten the day of a military member by writing them a letter, even if you don’t know them personally.
The nonprofit A Million Thanks makes it simple to write a letter to someone serving right now. Offering kind words, support, and thanks to someone putting their life on the line is a powerful tribute.
14. Attend a Local Event
Local military events take place across the country all year. Whether you join a local race to support the troops or you participate in a charity event, this is a great way to get involved.
Local events come at all times of the year, but they’re especially common on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Look for ways you can be of assistance in your own community. Change starts close to home, and no action is too small.
Last but not least, don’t be afraid to make your voice heard. No matter what side you fall on the political spectrum, fallen veterans fought for our basic freedoms. They fought to give Americans a voice, so make sure you use it.
Vote for change when it matters to you, and vote for those who support veterans, military families, and protections. These soldiers may be gone, but their legacy lives on in everyday freedoms and rights. You can learn how to register to vote here.
Pay Your Respects to the Fallen
It’s not always easy to respect the dead, especially if you don’t personally know someone who served in the military. These ideas above are so simple that anyone can do them, no matter the time of the year.
Don’t wait for Memorial Day to honor fallen veterans. Pay tribute to them in small acts of kindness, political action, and donations. These brave souls paid the ultimate price for freedom. They deserve to have that legacy live on forever in the American spirit.