Celebrating Memorial Day and Our Older Adults

By Cynthia Germain

The great weather that we have had leads well into Memorial Day, a long-celebrated holiday since 1868. Originally known as Decoration Day, it was instituted after the Civil War to commemorate the soldiers who perished in that devastating conflict. Over time, Memorial Day has evolved to honor all Americans who have died in military service.

While Memorial Day is often marked by ceremonies, parades, and the decoration of graves, it’s also an important occasion to consider and celebrate our older adults, many of whom have a deep connection to the history and legacy of this day. It is a day to reflect on the freedoms and privileges we enjoy because of the brave individuals who laid down their lives for our country. This remembrance fosters a sense of gratitude and respect for the military community and their families.

And it is not only a good time to reflect on the collective sacrifices made for the nation’s security but also an opportunity to educate younger generations about the cost of freedom and the importance of military service. It is a chance to instill a sense of duty in the hearts and minds of young Americans, ensuring that the legacy of those who served is not forgotten.

Having those intergenerational conversations and focused activities around this day are key to acknowledging those older adults who have served as well as those who have been impacted by the loss of a loved one in military service. Their firsthand accounts provide a personal and emotional connection to the history we honor.

Here’s some ways to celebrate older adults on Memorial Day:

  • Host a Storytelling Event: Organize a community gathering where older adults, especially veterans, can share their experiences and stories.
  • Volunteer Together: Encourage families and community members to volunteer at veterans’ homes or organizations that support veterans.
  • Personal Visits: Spend time with older adults in your family or community. Listen to their stories, express your gratitude, and make them feel valued and appreciated.

Memorial Day is a time of remembrance, gratitude, and unity. By considering and celebrating our older adults, especially veterans, we enrich the observance of this day. As we honor those who have fallen, let us also celebrate the lives and legacies of those men and women who continue to serve our country.