An old school photo of my Grandfather, John Hardin Boyer, home on leave during WWII and pictured with my Dad, John Hardin Boyer, Jr.

I love Memorial Day. I love that the pool finally opens. That school is out (or almost out!). That it’s a long weekend. That the weather is warm (and for those of us in Virginia it has been the coldest, rainiest May I can remember, so bring on the heat!).

I also deeply care about what we’re celebrating - men and women over the centuries who have given their lives so that we can live in this amazing country and that so many others across the world can live with freedoms that otherwise they wouldn’t have. However, if I’m not careful to give intentional thought towards the real meaning of this day, I can tend to gloss over and miss it. Which is a real shame not just for me and my family but also for all of those who have died and for their families. They certainly deserve to be honored - that sounds like such an understatement to even write that.

So how do we go about giving the day the substance we want to give it? Here are just a few of our thoughts - and hopefully one or two resonates. And certainly shoot us other ideas that you have so that we can share those as well!

  • First, make it personal, for you and the kids. Opt to honor someone you know who has served to connect your family to the day. Though the day is inherently about those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in active service, we can opt to celebrate someone we know to create that connection (of course, still honoring those we’ve lost).

Thomas Price, a Marine Corps Captain and member of the Individual Ready Reserve, suggests a quick dig in your family tree, “service members are more common than you think, and it’s easy to dig up that family history with a lot of online ancestry services.” He adds that celebrating the day in honor of that particular individual, along with those who have passed, makes it more tangible. If you can grab a picture to display at your Memorial Day event, even better!

  • Make it about appreciation. Be sure to thank anyone who has served for their service through a note or a call, and have the kids do the same. Great Memorial Day activities for kids (and adults!) include:
  • And of course, make it fun. Those who gave their lives did so for us to be free and pursue our happiness, even when that just means hitting the grill. So a burger and a beer (or 2) by the pool? Absolutely!