Memorial Day is a time I remember from back when I was a kid, a bunch of candy was thrown out from passing floats by veterans and current military members alike, sometimes with a cool sticker or something too. As I grew up I never thought much else of it, even as the rest of my family was serving or going to until I joined the military myself. I enjoyed a free meal from a restaurant or two because that’s what everyone was talking about, but it wasn’t until I got out that the full weight of the day hit me like a bag of bricks.

My late grandfather served in the Army back in what he would have called “the good days,” and now every Memorial Day my grandmother goes out to the parades to pay her respects. There’s also some old stones featured in her town’s center with the names of all the servicemen and women from the town who lost their lives, she’s so proud of his engraving and makes sure to stop by. I saw a look in her eyes when I went home one year that I hadn’t seen since my grandpa was still alive, and that’s when it clicked in my head.

She was proud of that stone because then even future generations of the town would know that her beloved husband had fought for them. She was proud that he had served this country that she loves so much, and she was tear-filled that others were there honoring their relatives on the same stones.

Memorial Day is a fantastic day to celebrate; invite all your friends and desired family over for a sparkler-filled day of fun and good times, just remember all the people that fought for you to have that right, and then party a little harder! Think about what you can do for the veterans of the future, because they deserve to be treated better than their predecessors. We know this now.

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Not every grieving widow has a pretty story to say about the military or how America treated them after their service, or even during. There’s the massive PTSD issue with members returning from overseas; there are issues with the VA that continually keep vets from receiving proper treatment they need; there’s even rising issues with veteran homelessness, and these seem to be simple issues to solve in 2016 that persist anyhow.

If you’d like to get a little more involved this year to help change some of the adversities vets take at home then you could always check out programs like The Fisher House Foundation, The Special Operations Warrior Foundation, The Disabled American Veterans Association plus many, many more that all send a majority (<90%) of their proceeds to services for vets!

This Memorial Day you just need to ask yourself one question: do you want to be honoring those that have sacrificed everything for this country, or do you want to be honoring the haunted ghosts of who they once were? You’ve got the power to help make that difference!