top of page

Honoring our Heroes: The Meaning & Significance of Memorial Day

For many Americans, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, celebrated with barbecues, pool openings, family gatherings, and fireworks. However, amidst these festivities, it is crucial to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day: honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

For many veterans, Memorial Day weekend can be a challenging time.  Veterans may celebrate differently—some may attend events and participate, while others may prefer solitude and reflection. This holiday evokes a range of emotions, serving as a solemn reminder of the brutality of war, the memory of lost friends, and the scars of conflict.

Social gatherings, loud noises like fireworks, and crowds can trigger post-traumatic stress symptoms in veterans. The focus on military service and sacrifices can also worsen pre-existing mental health issues. There is often an expectation for veterans to participate in Memorial Day events, which can be emotionally taxing as it brings up their own experiences and challenges faced when reintegrating into civilian life. Veterans may question the meaning and impact of their service during this reflective time, and not all have strong support networks to help them through these emotions.

Understanding these challenges can lead to better support and appreciation for veterans during Memorial Weekend. If you know a veteran, a simple gesture like a phone call or message can make a difference, showing them that you are there to support them. Expressing gratitude for their service and sacrifice is meaningful, as is giving them the space to share their stories or memories of fallen comrades.

For anyone looking to memorialize soldiers and participate meaningfully in Memorial Day, there are several ways to do so:

  • Participate in or attend Memorial Day events.

  • Observe the National Moment of Remembrance (3PM on Memorial Day for 1 minute).

  • Support veterans and military families.

  • Donate to charities and volunteer.

Honoring our heroes extends beyond mere remembrance; it requires active engagement and support. Participating in commemorative activities ensures that their memory is not only honored but preserved for future generations. Donating to non-profits and volunteering are impactful ways to memorialize our service members, acknowledging their sacrifices and contributions.

Memorial Day serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges veterans face, often leading to a range of emotions. Supporting veterans, especially those in need, can profoundly impact their lives. Organizations like America's Warrior Partnership are at the forefront, providing vital resources and support at the community level. As Jim Lorraine, the CEO of America's Warrior Partnership, states, "Together, We Can Do Better!" Let us honor our veterans by acting and exploring additional ways to positively impact their lives. By creating welcoming and supportive environments, we can ensure that veterans are cared for and can live the life they defended for us all.


Ricky Derring is a veteran, military advocate, and AWP National Advisory Council member. Ricky retired from the US Army as a Sergeant First Class (SFC) Ranger and Green Beret, serving over 14 years. He has a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership with a focus on management, organizational development, and leadership development. Ricky has over 20 years of experience leading high-performing human resource and operations teams in the government, retail, healthcare and non-profit sectors. He is passionate about helping other veterans and military spouses find employment and live fulfilling lives.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page