Memorial Day is a time for us to remember and honor those who have died while serving in our country’s armed forces. The holiday was originally observed on May 30 from 1868 until 1970 and now is held on the last Monday in May. While the memorializing elements of this holiday are largely lost today in the onset of summer vacation season, many in our older generation still hold to the more sacred observance of the holiday. Lesser known as Decoration Day, many people celebrate this holiday by wearing poppies and placing flags on graves in military cemeteries across the country. Parades and special programs are held in many communities to honor those who served and remember the ultimate sacrifice they made while serving our country.
If your aging family member knows servicemen or women who died in service to our country, perhaps you could visit their graves together to place patriotic flowers or a flag. If your loved one is homebound, ask about the memories of family members who were in the military. Look at photos and talk about those times. You might learn something surprising!
Even if your mom or dad didn’t lose family members or friends who served during wartime, they will probably have strong memories about pivotal military moments such as Pearl Harbor, D-Day, or even Desert Storm. If it is possible and not painful for them, ask if they would share those memories with you. If they resist or seem uncomfortable about talking of such memories, then change the subject and leave it alone. Not everyone’s memories are pleasant when related to military action.
Betsy’s parents both were in military service during World War II. While her mother joined the Marines and served stateside so another man could go and fight, her father joined the Army and saw action in southern Europe and Northern Africa. He was posted to drive supply trucks for Patton’s army and was always reluctant to discuss what he witnessed while there.
The important consideration for you as a family caregiver is that Memorial Day is intended to honor and remember sacrificial service. Consider how you can best do this with those you care for. If nothing else works, enjoy the warm weather and promise of summer just around the bend.
Betsy and I hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about Memorial Day memories.