Many of us will spend Memorial Day in somebody's backyard grilling hot dogs and hamburgers and throwing back a few beers. That's because we've traditionally come to associate the holiday with a day off from work and the start of summer. But let's not lose sight of the real meaning behind Memorial Day -- reflecting on and paying tribute to the men and women who've given their lives while serving in the nation's armed forces.
If you're looking for something to do this year to honor those who have died in service, here are 10 ways to spend Memorial Day and still make it in time to that backyard barbecue.
1. Visit your local veterans cemetery to lay flowers on a grave. (If you plan to place a flag on a grave of someone other than a relative, get permission first.)
2. Watch war movies. Some suggestions include: Saving Private Ryan; The Thin Red Line; Good Morning, Vietnam; The Hurt Locker; Platoon; and Pearl Harbor.
3. Visit a veterans association. Talk to -- and thank! -- the veterans there.
4. Volunteer at a veterans hospital.
5. Attend a Memorial Day parade.
7. Sign up to adopt a Solider, Sailor, Airmen, Marine, or Coast Guardsman through Soldiers Angels. The commitment requires you to send one letter a week and one care package a month to the solider during their deployment.
8. Visit a military museum, war memorial, or other historic site. For a list of historical military sites, click the link.
9. Fly an American flag (just be sure of proper Memorial Day flag etiquette).
10. Honor a veteran on Facebook either by changing your profile photo to an image of an American flag or your personal veteran. Use your status message to tell your friends what Memorial Day means to you.
And, however you choose to spend the day, please take a moment to remember and thank all those who serve or have served in the armed forces.
How will you spend Memorial Day?
Image via ingridtaylar/Flickr