Memorial Day: How to Honor Our Heroes

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure." Two and a half centuries into the United States...

Abraham Lincoln once said, "Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure." Two and a half centuries into the United States of America's history, more than 1 million people have died in its service. So, even in these decidedly irreverent times, it is incumbent upon us to foster a culture of reverence-not just for the sake of patriotism, but out of respect for the preciousness of human life.There are a number of simple, valid ways to honor our nation's fallen soldiers-like visiting a veterans cemetery or just taking a moment on Monday to offer a silent gesture of recognition. But if you're interested in a higher level of Memorial Day-inspired engagement, here are a few places you can turn.Vietnam Veterans of America was founded in 1978 on the principle that "never again will one generation of veterans abandon another," and dedicates its time to improving the lives of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. You can learn more about the VVA here or make a donation here.Like the VVA before it, The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is dedicated to caring for the nation's recent veterans. IAVA-a stalwart Choose GOOD partner about whom we've written quite a bit-will on Monday reveal its virtual Wall of Remembrance, on which you'll be write a note to a lost loved one. The organization also has a list of events that will take place throughout the coming week.

The plaza at National Civil War Memorial is under construction, and will be erected out of stunning brick. If you're interested in supporting that process, and if you had a relative participate in the Civil War, you'll soon be able to pay to have one of the bricks in the plaza engraved with that relative's name. If you don't have a relative who fought, you can choose to adopt a veteran, and a historian will choose a name on your behalf.As we've become well aware, the memorial at the National Mall is in need of upkeep. But did you know that you can donate directly to help the cause? Learn more here.Finally, in Washington, D.C., the annual Memorial Day Parade will take place on Monday. Check here to see if volunteer opportunities are still available.Feel free to share more ways to honor our troops in the comments.
via Alan Levine / Flickr

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