On Monday, May 27, Americans will observe Memorial Day — a federal holiday for remembering and honoring those who have died while serving in the military or other deceased family members.
The Church News asked our readers, "How do you memorialize or honor either those who have died in military service or deceased family members?" Here are some of their responses:
Daniel S Lee, Point Twenty-Two Ward, Mesa Arizona Eastmark Stake:
- I served in the Navy for five years as a naval aviator and 16 years in the Army. Besides the Memorial Day holiday, it is the 75th anniversary of D-Day landing at Normandy on June 6. Using FamilySearch.org I found 10 men who gave their lives in battles during World War II with common ancestors in my family line. These 10 did not have any of their temple ordinances done for them. I have already started to complete this ordinance work. On June 5, I will take two of my grandsons to the Gilbert Arizona Temple to do the baptisms and confirmations. On June 6, I plan to complete additional ordinances for two of these relatives who died on the first day of the Normandy invasion 75 years ago. What better gift can I give them than that?
Susan Ericksen Bruschke, Mt. Pleasant Third Ward, Mt. Pleasant Utah Stake:
- "Our family has a tradition of decorating the graves of our loved ones who have passed on. A few years ago, I realized that the young people in our family hadn't had a personal relationship with many of our deceased relatives. I decided to collect photos of those whose graves we decorate and put them in a binder. As we gather at the cemetery to decorate their graves, the book is opened to the photo of that relative, and those who knew them share remembrances of that person. It has made our family tradition so much more meaningful."
Robert D. Black, Pantano Ward, Tucson Arizona East Stake:
- "Dad was one of the first to see the horror of the Dachau concentration camp. He served in the Army Rainbow Division. When he passed away in 1990, we requested that all who wanted to remember him donate to the World War II Memorial that was being built in Washington, D.C. The memorial keeps a list of those who are honored by the monument, and Dad's name is listed there."
Steve Whitaker, Rapid City Ward, Rapid City South Dakota Stake:
- "My father was a WWII vet and was at Omaha Beach. I honor him with a prayer for all who serve and (remember) his sacrifice and wonderful, positive life."
DeBorah Bankston, Gilmer 2nd Ward, Gilmer Texas Stake:
- "We share stories with local schools and universities, visit cemeteries and place small flags on graves. If health does not permit, we gather as a family over dinner and share stories of family who have served."
Kathy L. McIntyre, Cedar City 13th Ward, Cedar Utah West Stake:
- "We take our children and grandchildren to the cemetery along with several car-trunk loads of flowers. As we place flowers on graves, we retell stories of the lives of our ancestors. This year our great-grandchildren will hear stories of their fifth-great-grandparents on up to their great-grandparents. What a blessing to live in Cedar City, Utah — the community our families built."
Ryan Kelly, Pinehurst Ward, Sandy Utah East Stake:
- "Each year around Memorial Day, my family visits the gravesite of my great-uncle, Jerry Kelly. Jerry was a P-47 pilot in World War II and was shot down on Oct. 20, 1944, while flying a close-support mission over Germany. He is buried in a beautiful spot at the Salt Lake City Cemetery. During our memorial visit, we place flowers and an American flag at his gravesite. We bring with us one of the letters he wrote during the war and read it out loud and reflect on the great life he lived. Doing this helps us remember the tremendous sacrifices that have been made in defense of freedom. It also makes me personally think of the Atonement and the Resurrection and how the Savior paid the ultimate sacrifice and how we are all beneficiaries of that. We always walk away feeling that Jerry is grateful to be remembered. As we walk back to our car, we always stop at the grave of Charles G. Wilkinson, who is buried just 10 spots from Jerry. Charles flew on a bomber crew in World War II and died on April 27, 1944. We know nothing else of Charles, but we still stop at his grave and remember his sacrifice. This helps us feel of the spirit of Memorial Day."
Reuben Dunn, Taylorsville 15th Ward, Taylorsville Utah North Stake:
- "I wear a 'memory bracelet' with the name of Staff Sergaent Larry D. Welsh. He was declared MIA in Vietnam in 1969. He left his squad in search of some missing soldiers. His dog tags and eyeglasses were found the next day. I use his story from time to time when teaching "greater love hath no man." As a veteran myself, I am grateful for Sgt. Welsh's sacrifice for our freedom. I also honor members of my own immediate and extended family who have gone into harm's way for our country."
Jackie Alleman, Willow Creek Branch, Hermiston Oregon Stake:
- "My children and their families come home and we enjoy the short program provided by our community. We then walk the cemetery and find the graves of our loved ones. We laugh and tell stories and share spiritual experiences as we search for the markers. Then we go out for Slurpees."