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Here’s What 11 Military Spouses Want You to Know About Memorial Day


For most of the US, Memorial Day is the start of the summer, a three-day weekend, and a chance to get the grills out. It’s not controversial or a cause for a lot of philosophical discussions. But for military families, Memorial Day often can feel like a flash point of the military-civilian divide.

Many currently military families honor people they personally know who have died during service. Staples of Memorial Day celebrations–sales, picnics, and parades–are often at loggerheads with how military families think the day should be observed.

Memorial Day can often be a point of contention in the military community. #memorialday #holiday #american #military #opinion

I asked the Jo, My Gosh! community to share their thoughts about Memorial Day. Here’s what they said:

1. Your choice is not mine

My husband has lost more friends than I have, but we both have names and people that we remember this day. Everyone does that in their own way. I may be a little sad and nostalgic, but most service members celebrate by having a beer to honor their missing friends. Some towns celebrate with a parade. Some family members remember with a picnic or BBQ. So I would never tell someone how to celebrate or what to do, as long as their intention is to honor the service members who died in previous wars. – Lizann, Seasoned Spouse

2. It’s hardest for Gold Star families

My gold star mom friend has a celebration of her son’s life on Memorial Day at section 60. But it’s still not happy. 14 years hasn’t lessened that pain, she’s learned to live with it. As a former Arlington Lady, I saw it so often when I’d go to section 60 to visit those I was honored to serve, and the wives and children were having a glass and remembering. – Karen

3. Know about the holiday

I want other people to know the meaning and why the holiday is observed. It’s okay for us all to gather and enjoy having the time off, nothing wrong with a beach weekend or BBQ. Just make sure the meaning of the day isn’t lost on us. It’s the respect that we’re paying forward. -Lindsey

4. Your celebrations don’t offend me

I don’t have a problem with going out and having fun this weekend, we do too but at least know why and what Memorial Day is all about. -Julie, Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life

5. Here’s how to thank

Stop thanking veterans for their service on this day; rather, thank them for their friends sacrifices. -Rose

6. Don’t disgrace the weekend

The weekend is not meant for partying, getting drunk and disgracing the true meaning  There is nothing wrong with spending time with family and having a cookout but still take some time to have a moment of silence , reflect, visit a memorial, celebrate with dignity to honor the sacrifice, do something kind in the name of the fallen .  -Sierra, The Daily Impressions

7. We don’t celebrate

Our family always thinks it’s weird that our town doesn’t have a parade and we don’t celebrate. It’s hard to make them understand that it’s not a day we feel like celebrating but a day we reflect and feel for those families. It’s more of a somber day in our home for us and a day we reflect. -Jenah

Memorial Day is about honoring those who died while in service to our country. Here's what some military spouses want you to know about this holiday

8. It’s not a happy day

My husband is the serving spouse, not me, but he often feels frustrated when people tell him, “Happy Memorial Day” typically followed by, “thank you for your service.” Any appreciation for his service is thoughtful, but Memorial Day isn’t “happy” for us and we want to spend it remembering and honoring those that have died serving their country. -Hannah

9. I want to stay blessed

Memorial Day was borne of tragedy, and while people can and SHOULD celebrate the day, they should understand they’re celebrating the lives of those lost while serving. . .  I hope that I stay as blessed as I have been to never have to celebrate my service member or any family members on this day. -Christa

10. It’s okay if you don’t want to observe it

It’s okay if you don’t go to a parade or a memorial. It’s okay even if you don’t think about people who died or honor those who died. No one should be forced or guilted into observing Memorial Day. That’s part of our freedom as Americans, too, and that’s also a freedom that service members fight to protect. -Sarah

11. Learn more

I wish schools would take the opportunity to have students do a project/research for Memorial Day. There are so many names listed on the monuments (DC or local) and even more that aren’t. -Amanda

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