by Judi Gerber
For many people, Memorial Day is just another day off, and is seen as little more than the unofficial start of summer and a great day to barbecue. But, the real purpose of the day is to remember those who have died in service to the United States.
If you are looking for a way to truly observe Memorial Day, you can visit a cemetery and place some of your homegrown flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers. Or, if you aren’t a gardener, but are equally concerned about the negative environmental impacts of conventional flowers, buy organic flowers.
A more lasting remembrance is to plant a tree, or even a garden, in memory of a lost loved one or other service members. As I have written about before, giving somebody the gift of a garden is one of the most memorable things that you can do. This is all the more true if you create a “memorial” garden either in remembrance or in honor of someone.
Aside from remembering those we have lost, there are some things we can do to help the thousands of men and women now serving. For example, are you a gardener? Do you want to make a difference? Then why not put your green thumb to use. For service members that are deployed, consider “adopting” their garden while they are gone. You can even involve his or her family in the care of the garden. Not only will they benefit from beautiful flowers and delicious food, but working in the garden is therapeutic and can help them deal with the stress that comes with the deployment of their loved one.
Not only can you take care of their garden for them, but, if you incorporate edibles, when it comes time to harvest, you can donate that produce to a local veteran’s agency or hospital, or to other military families whose loved one is also deployed.
You can also create a cut flower garden and give the flowers to the same veteran’s organizations. Or, you can go and regularly place them on military grave sites and deliver bouquets to other military families as well.