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Simple Ways to Observe Memorial Day and Honor America's Fallen Servicemembers

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Arlington National Cemetery

American Flags decorate graves on Memorial Day 2010 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

Photo by R. D. Ward. Photo courtesy of DoD.

According to The White House Commission on Remembrance, a Gallop Poll revealed that only 28% of Americans know the real meaning of Memorial Day and most view it as a "day off" instead of a day to remember those who died for our country.

However, for many military families, Memorial Day signifies much more than a "day off" from work. It's a sacred holiday meant to pay homage to America's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard who gave their life in service to our country.

Honoring America's fallen servicemembers on Memorial Day doesn't require a huge investment of money or time. What's important is making sure the sacrifices made by our nation's sons and daughters aren't forgotten.

Simple Ways to Observe Memorial Day:

1. Fly Your Flag at Half-Staff
Unlike other occasions when the American Flag is flown at half-staff, proper protocol for flying your flag on Memorial Day is to fly it at half-staff from sunrise to noon and then raise it quickly to full-staff.

2. National Moment of Remembrance
The White House Commission on Remembrance, established by Congress in 2000, encourages all Americans to remember those who paid the ultimate price in service to our nation.

On Memorial Day at 3 p.m. (your local time) take a moment and observe the National Moment of Remembrance by pausing for 60 seconds to remember the men and women who fought and died while serving our country. To help spread the word about the National Moment of Remembrance the organization suggests that each person tell three people and ask those individuals to tell three people and so on.

3. Placing Flags on Gravesites
Many cemeteries need volunteers to help place flags on military gravesites. If this is something that interests you, but you're unsure how to get involved, simply call the cemetery or church of your choice and inquire. Most likely, they'll welcome and appreciate your offer of assistance.

4. Educating Children About Memorial Day
Because the military is a significant part of their life, military kids often have a more comprehensive understanding of Memorial Day and what it represents.

However, when asked about Memorial Day, many kids associate it as a day off from school, or the first day the pool opens. This mind-set presents an excellent opportunity to educate children – military and civilian alike - about the true meaning of Memorial Day.

(If you're currently going through a deployment and feel that the subject matter might upset your child you may want to reference past wars, perhaps ones that their grandparent or other relative served in. The way you handle this discussion will greatly depend on your child's age and coping mechanisms.)

5. Attend a Ceremony
Across the country, veteran's organizations such as the VFW, American Legion and most, if not all, military installations will host a Memorial Day ceremony.

These observances are not a celebratory event, but rather a somber, sacred gathering to remember and pay homage to those who gave their life in service to our country.

We Mustn't Forget
For many, Memorial Day Weekend signals the unofficial kick-off to summer. Trips to the beach, camping and backyard barbecues will fill many agendas. However, we must never forget that the real reason behind the long holiday weekend is to honor, remember and show gratitude to America's fallen heroes.

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