Memorial Day: 5 Last-Minute Ways to Pay Respects and Honor Loved Ones

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” — Joseph Campbell

Memorial Day weekend has arrived! Maybe you’re throwing an outdoor bash at your house, or maybe you’re attending community events like parades with your family. Or, there’s a chance that you haven’t made official plans just yet and you want to find ways to celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost.

If this holiday sneaked up on you and left you clueless about how to pay your respects on Memorial Day, then never fear! Nab one of these ideas and make this year count!

1. Fly your American flag at half-staff from sunrise until noon on Monday (flag etiquette states that it should be raised again from noon until sunset). These flag positions are appropriate in states of mourning.

2. Place mini flags on graves at your local cemetery, and/or visit the resting places of loved ones. While you’re at the supermarket for last-second cookout items, why not pick up a handful of mini flags? You can place them near relatives’ or friends’ graves, but you can also put them near strangers’ graves that may appear lonely.

3. Participate in a “National Moment of Remembrance” at 3:00 PM on Monday. The President urges all Americans to pause their activities at 3:00 PM every Memorial Day, in order to observe a minute of silence for those who have given their lives in service of the United States. Anyone can participate in this, and it only takes a minute of the day.

4. Donate money or time to a cause that supports the spirit of Memorial Day. There’s no right or wrong time to support our soldiers, but this weekend seems extra appropriate. AMVETS and the American Legion are among the best-known veterans’ organizations, but there are plenty more honorable ones to donate to as well.

5. Donate blood to the American Red Cross. Just as honorable men and women gave their lives to protect our freedom, we have a chance to give back with a special gift of our own! The Red Cross is always in need of blood donors, especially those with specific blood types. If you aren’t terrified of needles and you’re aching to help, then make an appointment with a blood bank in your area to make a huge difference in someone else’s life. You can find all the information you need on the Red Cross website, whether you’re a new or a seasoned donor.

Still anxious for something to do this weekend? To find Memorial Day events and activities in your area, check out sites like Eventful or Zvents. All you have to do is type in your city and the keyword and you’re there.

Any other last-second ways to participate in this holiday of remembrance? How do you honor those we’ve lost?

Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. Jill writes for the QLP blog and assists with the company’s social media accounts. You can connect with Jill on Google+.


  1. Amy Swanson

    I never knew about the moment of silence before. Wow, good thing I checked out this blog before Monday! Another terrific post, Jill 🙂

  2. Mandy Kilinskis

    I feel like an awful American, but I didn’t know about the moment of silence either! I’ll definitely be observing it this year. Thanks for the tips, Jill!

    • Jill Tooley

      Don’t feel bad; I didn’t know about it before writing this. But now we’re in the know, so ‘sall good! 🙂

  3. Rachel

    Great post, Jill! I don’t usually do anything for Memorial Day; I think it’s easy to forget sometimes what holidays like this one and Labor Day mean, besides a day off work. Thanks for spelling out the specific things we can do to remember the day’s importance — they are all great suggestions! I will be referring to this on Monday, for sure!

  4. Eric

    Always put my flags out on these holidays. It’s a small thing to do, but it’s really cool to walk down your block and see how many other people did the same, and see that solidarity.

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