May 28, 2012 -- intro:Today is Memorial Day, which originated as Decoration Day to honor Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. The designation was later expanded to include the troops who have died in all wars.
There are lots of ways to honor them every year on the last day of May, publicly or in private. Here are five of them.
quicklist: 1category: Memorial Daytitle: Be Traditionaltext: The Department of Veterans Affairs has 131 national cemeteries in 39 states (and Puerto Rico), in addition to 33 soldier's lots and monument sites. Take flowers to one of them. After all, it's part of the original Memorial Day Order, designating May 30, 1868, "for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion..."
quicklist: 2category: Memorial Daytitle: Be Contemplative
text: President Bill Clinton issued a memorandum in 2000 on the White House Program for the National Momentof Remembrance that encouraged Americans "to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all."
category: Memorial Daytitle: Be Generoustext: Vietnam Veterans of America operates a service called ClothingDonations.org that will pick up your used clothes and household goods. Operating in 30 states, it uses the donations to support programs for all veterans.
quicklist: 4category: Memorial Daytitle: Be Celebratorytext: Parades and celebrations are standard fare in many U.S. communities so this should be a relatively simple outing in appreciation of service members. Not sure of parades in your area? This website run by VetFriends.com might help.
quicklist: 5category: Memorial Daytitle: Be Proud text: The U.S. Flag Code points out that it's perfectly fine to fly the flag every day but today is one of the occasions when it is especially a good idea. Learn about the proper ways to do it.