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Memorial Day When You're in the Military

Memorial Day is one of those awkward holidays. For those of us in the military community or connected to it by a friend or family member, it is a day for remembering the fallen and thanking those who serve. For the majority of Americans who are not connected to the military, it is just another day to spend in the sun, taking road trips or enjoying the first watermelons of the season.

Military families each have their own way of commemorating the day. Some travel to nearby cemeteries to place a flag or mark the gravestone of fallen soldiers, while others spend the day with loved ones. Then there are those who just treat it as another bank holiday and get their swim on.

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We don’t have many family traditions around most of the holidays, and Memorial Day is no exception. I could be one of those military wives and wax philosophic about the need to remember the fallen and commemorate the service of so many—but that's not me.

Depending on where you or your family member is posted, many communities offer their own Memorial Day celebrations (that may include a hot dog or cherry flavored popsicle). Of course, military posts offer remembrances, celebrations and other ways to get involved in the day’s events. A simple way to get involved and commemorate quietly is the Wear Blue Run, started by a widow at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 2010, as a way for the JBLM community to connect and support each other during a tough deployment and now has participants across the U.S.

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But no matter if you're in the service or in a civilian family: Memorial Day isn’t about giving up the extra day of your weekend or poolside entertainment, but simply taking the time to remember the fallen and be thankful for the sacrifices those in the military community are willing to make for the freedoms we are able to enjoy. Then diving in, grilling with friends and enjoying the start of summer.

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