As much as we may enjoy Memorial Day as part of a weekend that heralds the start of summer fun, it's still important to remember that the holiday is about remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. In addition to attending a parade and displaying a flag, one of the ways you can pay an appropriate tribute is by writing a thank-you letter to the military men and women who have served America with honor.
If you know a veteran personally, sending them a note, card, or package is a loving gesture that will be appreciated more than they can say. If you don't, you can still express your thanks through a letter or email sent through an organization serving the troops. The USO's website has a link for sending messages of support; at last count, nearly 3.5 million sentiments had been delivered. Operation Gratitude, an organization that delivers mail and care packages to active and retired service personnel, has some helpful recommendations for those who want to send a thank-you note. Along with your expressions of gratitude, you could add a few details about yourself and your family. Stick to safe topics such as hobbies, food, and sports, and avoid mentioning politics or religion. (Saying you'll pray for them, however, is fine.) If you're sending a letter from a child, don't use their last name and don't include glitter.
There's one sticky question surrounding greetings on this holiday: Is it okay to wish someone "Happy Memorial Day"? Some say absolutely not. As the History Channel noted, the day was established shortly after the Civil War as a time to remember all those who fell in battle (it was originally called "Decoration Day" after the custom of laying flowers on soldiers' graves). But others say differently. Retired Navy pilot Ken Harbaugh wrote an editorial for Observer several years ago arguing the case for including "happy." While it's important to take time to remember the fallen, he said, we shouldn't spend the entire day in mourning. "Mattress discounts and pie-eating contests and the freedom to be happy are all part of what they fought and died for," he concluded.
So use your best judgment when wording your holiday greeting to the troops. But feel free to include one of these sentiments, which pay tribute to those in uniform and recall all that they've done or do in the name of liberty.
All gave some; some gave all. Grateful thanks to you and to all who have served our country, and remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
This message acknowledges the deeper meaning of Memorial Day while honoring the work of the veterans who still serve.
I will never forget that I live in the land of the free because of the brave. Thank you for your service.
The "freedom isn't free" message is appropriate any time of year, but particularly during the days we set aside to remember our service personnel.
"Thank you to all members of the military, in all branches, past and present, living and dead."
This simple military thanks, as quoted by AllWording, covers everyone who has ever proudly worn a uniform to protect our country.
I'm so proud to have a (dad/mom/brother/sister/husband/wife/son/daughter/friend...)who has served our country with honor. Thank you so much for your service. I love you.
If you have the honor of being a military family or having a friend in the service, a more heartfelt message is called for. You could add some personal details, as well: "I'll never forget the day you graduated from basic training" or "Even though we miss you so much when you're deployed, we know you're doing one of the most important jobs in the world."
On Memorial Day, we thank you for all you give for our country: your devotion, your time, your family, your skills, and your very lives. We salute you.
A military career isn't your typical 9-to-5 job. It's a lifestyle which only other servicepersons and their families understand, and which demands the very best of those who undertake it. This message recognizes the enormous commitment our troops make to the country they love.
The true superheroes don't wear masks and capes; they wear fatigues, combat gear, and dress uniforms. We can never thank you enough for your heroic service to our country.
In a time where fictional characters with super powers get more attention than real-life people who fight for our freedom, it's important to stop, reevaluate our priorities, and give thanks.
Thank you for the vital work you're doing for our country. We appreciate your sacrifice and pray for your safe return home.
If you're writing to service personnel who are currently deployed overseas, a message like this would be appropriate. Including it as part of a care package with toiletries, a phone card, and nonperishable snacks would be even better.
We will never forget everything you have done to keep our country safe and free for us and for future generations. Thank you, and God bless America.
The work performed by all branches of the armed forces benefits not only us, but also our children, grandchildren, and all who will follow in the decades to come. This message acknowledges the long-range effects of their service.
You set an example of courage, commitment, selflessness, and national pride. Today and every day: Thank you for your service.
Those who put on the uniform are charged with maintaining an incredibly high standard of duty and bravery. This message expresses your awe as well as your gratitude.
You are an important part of the long history of military service that has made America proud and free. We thank and honor you and all those who have served before you.
We owe our thanks to every man and woman who has served, from the Continental Army that helped make America an independent nation to the armed forces who now protect that legacy.
"God bless America, land that I love... and God bless you for putting your life on the line every day. Your service to our great nation will never be forgotten."
Irving Berlin would surely be glad to have his famous lyric used as part of a thank-you to a military member. (He also wrote a number of other songs referencing the military, like the ones in the film White Christmas.)
This Memorial Day, I want to thank all members of the armed services for their dedicated work and sacrifices. But more than that, I pledge to show my thanks by _________.
Offering thanks is always appreciated, but we owe our veterans more than just words; we owe them our support in ways that will do the most good. As Reader's Digest noted, there are plenty of opportunities to help active and retired military personnel, many of which cost little or nothing. Visiting VA hospitals, doing chores for an elderly vet, sending care packages, picking up the restaurant bill for a diner in uniform — every little bit shows that you truly appreciate their sacrifice. And, of course, donations to organizations that support vets will help make their good works possible.