As the “unofficial” beginning to summer, Memorial Day has lost some of its meaning as a day to give thanks for those men and women of the armed forces — both past and present. We remember those whose sacrifices served the cause of peace and pray for those who are today working in harm’s way.

Here are 15 ideas you may be interested in using as you observe this national holiday.

  1. Lift up all veterans and their families in your prayers.
  2. Remember those in your community who have lost loved ones as a result of war. Visit a widow/widower or child of someone who has died while in the service.
  3. Pay a visit to a nursing home where many World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans are now living. Take the time to sit and talk and listen.
  4. Ask for a list of military personnel from your congregation who are on active duty and include them on your prayer list.
  5. Participate in the “National Moment of Remembrance” at 3 p.m. — “to pause for one minute to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all” (White House Memorandum May 2, 2000).
  6. Lay a wreath at your local or congregational cemetery in memory of veterans of all wars.
  7. Assemble military care packages sent to U.S. troops serving around the world. Items you may want to include are: tooth paste and brushes, lip balm, deodorant, gum and baby wipes.
  8. Visit memorials in your community. Many cities, towns and villages have erected monuments for those citizens who served in the armed forces.
  9. Fly the POW/MIA flag.
  10. Make a donation for disabled veterans.
  11. Visit patients at your local veterans hospital.
  12. Walk through the section for soldiers at your local cemetery and decorate the graves that have no flowers with a simple carnation or rose.
  13. Volunteer at a USO in your community.
  14. Write a thank-you note to an ELCA federal chaplain.
  15. Attend a Memorial Day prayer service.

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