Memorial Day: It’s not just a weekend, it’s a poignant day.

This weekend, scores will hitch up trailers, pack bags, fill coolers full of beer and head out for the 3-day weekend. We hope they remember Monday is Memorial Day. In the hubbub of the weekend, maybe everyone can take a few moments to remember those who sacrificed their lives in service to our country and show gratitude that they lived.

I remember going to the cemetery each Memorial Day to clean, sweep, and put new flowers on my grandparent’s graves. Even though they weren’t veterans, my Dad was, and this tradition was his orderly way of marking the day and thinking of the war he’d been through and the friends he’d lost. Many who didn’t grow up with this tradition –and still don’t commemorate the day, miss taking part in a meaningful holiday. Often, “memorialdayweekend” is uttered without the realization that Monday is a special day, not a weekend.

 Across the country, everyone will mark the day in their own way. Some will pause and reflect by themselves, others will place flags on headstones of veterans. Speeches will be made, a few tears shed, music played. One event is the Floating Lantern Hawaii. 

The Na Lei Aloha Foundation and Shinnyo-en (a Japanese Buddhist order) brought the event to the US 14 years to coincide with the American tradition of honoring their war dead on Memorial Day.  The event is totally free and open to the public. Many have already sent in names to be written on the lanterns, however, if you’re not in Hawaii, you might also want to make one of your own. Make sure you take the remains, and recycle them (as they do at the Floating Lantern Hawaii ceremony).