Every Memorial Day, on the last Monday of May, our nation takes time to honor our veterans and remember our fallen soldiers. All around the United States, we decorate memorials with flowers, gather to watch parades with our families, and thank the veterans who have served– and continue to serve– us all.
To help you honor this important day, we put together an article with many different ways to show your appreciation for our veterans and their families.
Memorial Day Gifts & Other Ways to Celebrate
Memorial Day can be celebrated in so many ways, from decorating a memorial site to volunteering at a local event in your community, to donating money to a charitable organization. In some cases, it may be appropriate to give a gift to a veteran in your life or the family of a fallen soldier. A gift can help you show your appreciation and thank them for their service.
If you do decide to give a gift, we suggest you take time to ensure that it’s thoughtful, tactful, and not overly commercial. Perhaps you could drop off a home-cooked meal or have a care package or gift box delivered to their doorstep with a heartfelt thank you note. Gift boxes or baskets could include food or wellness items to encourage a bit of self-care and thank the recipient for their selfless contribution.
Another option is to buy a Memorial Day gift directly from a charitable organization that supports veterans, families of fallen soldiers, or another cause that’s important to the person you’re shopping for. For example, the organization Veterans for Peace has an online store with hats, t-shirts, and other gift options.
Showing Honor with Military Remembrance Gifts
Traditional gifts to honor fallen soldiers include flag display cases, heritage military urns, and heirloom personal effects chests. Another gift to honor a veteran or fallen soldier is a memorial bracelet or tag- something a surviving loved one can always wear or carry with them. These personalized HeroBracelets come in a wide variety of styles and a portion of the proceeds from each sale is donated to the charity of your choice.
Memorial Day Appreciation Ideas (Don’t Just Buy a Gift!)
Gifts are just one small way to show your appreciation and love. On Memorial Day, there are countless other ways to take action and pay your respects:
- Volunteer to decorate or lay flowers at your local veteran’s cemetery or memorial site.
- Volunteer at an event or Memorial Day Parade in your community.
- Sponsor a thank you bouquet or memorial wreath at one of the major war memorials through the Memorial Day Foundation.
- Donate financial support to families of the fallen through organizations like TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, or the American Widow Project.
- Donate to help wounded veterans through organizations like the Gary Sinise Foundation, the Fisher House Foundation, Homes for Our Troops, Pets for Vets, Protect Hero, or Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation.
- Share memories to the PBS Wall of Remembrance and honor your loved ones with a heartfelt note or letter at memorial sites. You can also share a photo or note on social media to honor your loved ones within your own community.
- Deliver a meal or care package to a veteran or family of a fallen soldier that you know. We have countless ready-to-ship care packages to choose from if you’re in need of ideas!
- Thank a vet for their service if you know one or see one dressed in uniform.
Things to Do on Memorial Day
Memorial Day is a federal holiday, meaning schools are closed and most non-essential workers get the day off from work. Take this opportunity to volunteer, attend a local event, or learn something new. Here are a few options to consider:
- Fly the American flag to pay your respects, but be sure to follow proper etiquette. On Memorial Day, tradition states that the flag should be flown at half-mast from sunrise until noon only, then raised fully until sunset.
- Pause for at least one minute of silence at 3 PM local time on Memorial Day to honor the fallen.
- Visit a war museum, monument, or memorial to reflect and learn about our military history.
- Watch the annual National Memorial Day Concert on Sunday, May 29th, 2022 at 8 PM ET on your local PBS station.
- Watch the annual Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 30th, 2022 at 2 PM ET.
- Join a Memorial Day charity run in your community.
- Learn something new. Watch a documentary or read a book about the cost of war.
- Attend a veteran-led peace demonstration in your area.
- Volunteer your time at a local event or parade.
Memorial Day Movies for the Evening
Memorial Day is so much more than just a holiday; it’s an important opportunity to learn about war and reflect on our military history. Watching a war documentary is one way to facilitate reflection and discussion. Though (rightfully) disturbing at times, these war documentaries are highly rated: The Fog of War, Restrepo, Farenheight 9/11, Standard Operating Procedure, No End in Sight, Winter Soldier, and Last Days in Vietnam, and Armadillo.
Of course, there are also many war movies to choose from, but it’s important to choose carefully and think critically about how war is portrayed in the film. Many popular Hollywood films have been criticized for glorifying war or spreading inaccurate information.
Popular Memorial Day Food Ideas
Food is a classic way to show your love on Memorial Day. If you decide to drop off a homecooked meal for a veteran or their family, you could make something patriotic with red, white, and blue ingredients. Perhaps a colorful layered cake, a festive fruit salad with bananas, blueberries, and strawberries, or some blue and white potato gnocchi with fresh tomatoes! If you live far away, you could have a pre-packaged gift basket of delicious treats delivered to their doorstep instead.
Memorial Day Gifts for Veterans & More
If you’re looking for a gift or care package to show your appreciation for a loved one this Memorial Day, we have many different options on our website. We’ll handle all the details for you to ensure it’s packaged beautifully, personalized as you like, and delivered on time.
No matter how you chose to spend Memorial Day, we hope you take time to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday.
To all the men and women in uniform– past and present– we thank you with all our hearts for your bravery, sacrifice, and service.