10 Ways to Honor Veterans and Military Families this Memorial Day

Memorial Day is more than just a chance to fire up the grill — it’s a day created to honor men and women who have died in military service. It’s an opportunity for kids and families to take some time, whether it’s a few minutes or a full day, to recognize and thank veterans, troops, and their families. You can go to your town’s Memorial Day parade, send a heartfelt letter of thanks, or volunteer your time in honor of those who’ve served. Here are 10 ways for kids and families to recognize and help veterans, military families, and those who’ve lost loved ones this Memorial Day.

  • A Day to Remember 1 of 11
    Memorial Day

    Here are 10 ways, large and small, to support our troops and military families.

  • Say Thanks 2 of 11
    News From Home

    Write a thank-you letter to a veteran or current member of the armed forces, whether it's your grandfather or someone you've never met. A Million Thanks makes it easy to send a letter to men and women in the military, and making a card is a fun, hands-on activity for kids of all ages.

    Photo credit: iStock

  • Barbecue for the Troops 3 of 11
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    This year, the USO is encouraging people to host Barbecues for the Troops, backyard fundraising events to support the morale-boosting efforts of the USO. Find out how you can host your own at BBQforthetroops.org.

    Photo credit: BBQ Pro Shop

  • Support Injured Service Members and Their Families 4 of 11
    wounded soldier

    In Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, over 48,000 service members have sustained physical injuries, with at least 400,000 more facing post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues. The Wounded Warrior Project provides everything from outdoor rehabilitation retreats to career connections.

    Photo credit: iStock

  • Visit a Veteran’s Cemetery 5 of 11
    Memorial Day

    One of the most traditional ways to recognize Memorial Day is to visit one of the VA's National Cemeteries for Memorial Day Ceremony. (You can find a list here.) Others also honor the dead by placing flags and flowers on veterans' graves.

    Photo credit: iStock

  • Reach Out to Support Mental Health 6 of 11
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    Every 65 minutes, a veteran or member of the armed services commits suicide. Learn the warning signs at the Veteran's Crisis Line website. You can also support an organization like Veterans Helping Veterans Now that offers support groups for veterans and their families.

    Photo credit: YouTube

  • Serve in Honor of Those Who Served 7 of 11
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    Take some time — a day, or just a few hours — to volunteer and serve your community in honor of those who've served our country. You can find opportunities in your area at All for Good. As veterans are more likely to be homeless (about 13% of the homeless are vets, compared to 7% of the population overall), collecting toiletries for your local homeless shelter would be a meaningful project.

    Photo credit: iStock

  • Support Those on the Home Front 8 of 11
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    If you know a family with a loved one serving overseas, or a family who's lost a loved one, take some time to help out by mowing their lawn, offering to watch the kids, or bringing them dinner. Men and women who are deployed often worry about how their families are doing back home, and supporting your neighbors can go a long way to alleviating those concerns. If you don't know someone in the services, consider donating to the National Military Family Association, a nonprofit that provides support to military families.

    Photo credit: iStock

  • Attend Your Local Parade 9 of 11
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    Most communities have a Memorial Day parade to commemorate those who've lost their lives while serving our country. Going to the parade is one way to introduce Memorial Day to younger children.

    Photo credit: iStock

  • Learn About Veterans Making a Difference 10 of 11
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    After serving in the armed forces, many veterans continue the tradition of service by founding nonprofits to change the world. A former US Marine founded Nuru International to end extreme poverty. Team Rubicon mobilizes military veterans to use their skills and expertise to help out after disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Learning about these everyday heroes and role models can be a truly valuable experience for your children.

    Photo credit: YouTube

  • Help Families Stay Strong During Deployments 11 of 11
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    With United Through Reading, service members can create a DVD of themselves reading a bedtime story to their children — something that the kids can then watch and cherish while their mom or dad is far away. Find out how you can get involved at United Through Reading's website. You can also support Operation Shower, an organization that offers volunteer-hosted baby showers for expecting moms while their husbands are deployed.

    Photo credit: YouTube

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