Memorial Day parades and other celebrations have largely been canceled, due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 virus. That doesn’t mean, however, that Americans can’t still celebrate the holiday from the safety of their own homes and backyards.
Roughly 95% of Americans are expected to stay home this Memorial Day weekend, instead of heading out somewhere to kick off the summer season. By celebrating on their own, families can offset the “quarantine” fatigue that many folks are feeling right now after being stuck inside for so long.
Celebrating Memorial Day, which honors America’s armed forces and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, is more important than ever in these troubled times. It provides a visual and emotional reminder that we have, as a nation, already overcome many dark days before — and it’s a promise that we’ll do so again.
Since you can’t head out to the community barbecue, go shopping at the outlet malls or hit the usual Memorial Day activities safely, here are some ideas that can help you get Memorial Day moving at home:
Join a Virtual Celebration
Fireworks and military honors are still being held this Memorial Day — they’ve just moved online. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) is hosting its first virtual Memorial Day on May 25. You can view the ceremony for free, right from your favorite laptop or another electronic device.
Many smaller celebrations have also moved online — including some fireworks displays. It may not be quite the same as seeing them in person, but check your local listings for an event in your area.
Proudly Fly the Flag
This is a great way to honor every veteran for their sacrifice. It’s also a great way to start a history lesson with your kids — and it takes you back to the heart of what the holiday is really about.
Get your flag out and explain to your kids why it’s being displayed on Memorial Day. Remember: Traditionally, the flag is put at half-mast, to signal mourning for those who lost their lives in defense of this country’s freedom, until noon. At noon, gather your family together to raise the flag to full mast for the remainder of the day in reminder that better days always come.
Decorate the Sidewalk with Patriotic Art
Sidewalk art has become somewhat of a “thing” as people look for creative ways to express themselves to others without actually being in direct contact. Why not translate that into a Memorial Day event for the family, as well?
Grab some sidewalk chalk, some inspiration off Pinterest or somewhere else and get everyone in your family involved. Not only is it a great way to celebrate the day and honor our veterans, but it’s also a great way to let the kids have some time out of the house while doing a safe activity.
Go on a Virtual Tour
If you’ve ever been to Washington D.C., you know that the national monuments are some of the most incredibly magnificant structures in this nation. Wouldn’t it be great to see them again? If you’ve never been there before — now’s your chance. You can take a virtual tour of the White House right from your own home.
Take a peek inside the “People’s House” on a guided tour that may be even better than a live one. You’ll learn all about the history of the White House and many of the important historical items contained inside it.
Since this is Memorial Day, you might want to take the kids on a few other significant virtual tours that relate, including the National World War I Memorial, the National World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial or the “Wall” or Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It may be particularly useful if you tie in stories from about those veterans you’ve known and loved in your own family. It’s also a great way to help history come to life for your children.
Take in a Concert
Every year, PBS hosts a Memorial Day concert — and you can now view it online. This year’s concert, which starts at 8 p.m. on May 24, features the National Symphony Orchestra, Trace Adkins and Grammy winner CeCe Winans, among other notable stars.
Through their online site, you can also watch clips of past Memorial Day events and performances, take part in virtual tributes to our nation’s fallen soldiers and learn more about how you can help wounded veterans who are living with the physical and emotional scars of their service.
Have a Family Feast
Finally, there’s no reason not to have your own private barbecue with your immediate family in attendance. Break out that grill that’s been tucked away all winter, clean it off and fire it up. You’ve got people to feed!
To make the day more special for the kids, involve them in the dessert-making process. This is a great time to make red, white and blue cupcakes or a berry salad that is sure to delight everyone. (If you don’t have a yard of your own, it’s also okay to visit an open campground or park while you barbecue, so long as you maintain the appropriate social distancing for safety.)
You can’t host a big party this year, and you can’t safely head to a crowded beach — but this is a great opportunity to put the Memorial Day focus back where it was intended to be: on people, veterans in particular.