This weekend, thousands will flock to local and distant cemeteries to honor those who have departed from this life. Along with those with grandiose displays of flowers and other tokens of remembrance, there will be many gravestones and markers that are bare; many of which will be so old that no one is alive who knew them personally.
A great history lesson can be learned from reading those old markers, especially those of veterans for whom Memorial Day was created. But it can be very sad, too.
It is a lesson in and of itself that all things pass away and we once again return to dust. So what hope is there of ever leaving an eternal legacy? This is an especially provocative question if ones ashes are just scattered or sitting on a mantel.
So this year, make a difference. Visit at least five neglected graves and leave a flower or some symbol of remembrance. Most likely, these were people just like you who were loved and respected by family and friends. Perhaps their graves are forgotten because there is no family nearby to honor their memories, or there was simply no reason for history to remember their names.
There are very few names that will remain known throughout eternity. So instead of concentrating on a legacy that remembers who you are, concentrate on a legacy that will make the world a better place.
And for those whose ashes have been given back to the earth, drift in the sea, or remain in an urn elsewhere, remember and honor them by doing something positive. There are countless ways to honor our veterans, those unknown who have gone before us, and those who rest in burial grounds. Your legacy begins by sharing theirs.
- Attend a local Memorial Day event honoring veterans
- Do something special for the family of an armed forces member (contact local bases and National Guard armories for ideas)
- Send a letter of appreciation to an armed forces member who is deployed overseas (see above for referrals)
- Send a check to a veteran’s organization (VFW, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, etc.)
- Say a prayer or simply stand in thought for the five unknown and forgotten people whose graves you visit
- Send a gift of food or needed item to local firefighters and law enforcement officers in appreciation of their sacrifices and the ultimate sacrifice made by some of their colleagues
- Do something nice for your fellowman in honor of your loved one who has no marker or tombstone
- Send flowers to someone you know who is unlikely to receive them from anyone else
- Arrange for flowers to be delivered to the graves of those loved ones in cemeteries out of town
And finally, make a list of what you want your legacy to be, and then begin living it today.