Opinion: Making Memorial Day time to serve today’s heroes

Adrielle from Conesus, NY, courtesy of www.letssaythanks.com

What’s the Memorial Day weekend going to mean for your family?  Perhaps you’ll consider not just the traditional TV, picnics, parades and so on.

If you interested, the Minnesota National Guard has dozens of ways to help, on a section of its website entitled,   “how can I help?” You’ll find it at http://www.minnesotanationalguard.org/how_can_i_help/
One way to honor veterans who have died, is to honor today’s soldiers.  The National Guard describes opportunities to help people who are in the military now, and/or their families.  The suggestions are organized into three broad categories:
• Financial Donations
• Time Donations
• Product Donations
You’d think that financial donations would be pretty simple.  But there is a vast array of possibilities.  It includes gift certificates, money to help create video conferences, helping to build veterans memorials, helping send the child of a deployed veteran to camp, or donating phone cards.

Alyssa), 7 from Helotes, Texas, courtesy of www.letssaythanks.com

You could ask a local fast food franchise, restaurant or service station to help – you could stand outside and ask for donations.

Time Donations – again, lots of options, from sending letters or videos to troops, to making a special blanket to helping drive members of a military family to appointments, and on and on.
Product donations: this includes donating books, cd’s, DVDs, cell phones, providing free lawn care for deployed service members and their families.
It’s heartening to see the wonderful creativity of youngsters on websites like http://www.letssaythanks.com What this and many other sites make clear is that a hour or so of effort to reach out is deeply appreciated.
If you do nothing else and have 7-15 year olds in your family, I’d strongly encourage looking at the art posted on the “let’s say thanks” website by youngsters around the country.  They produced and then sent these wonderful “thank-you’s” to service people.
So even if you don’t have a relative or friend in the military, you can make a difference.  The long Memorial Day weekend is a great time to start, or to continue, if you’ve already started honoring  some of today’s heroes and their families.

Joe Nathan, a former public school teacher and administrator, directs the Center for School Change at Macalester College.  He welcomes reactions, jnathan@macalester.edu

 

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