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Memorial Day weekend is typically full of parades, flag ceremonies and other large group activities to honor fallen military heroes, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation has had to find alternative ways to commemorate the sacrifices of those who have died while serving the country.
While we may not be able to have traditional in-person gatherings this Memorial Day, which falls on Monday, May 25 this year, the Concerned Veterans for America Foundation (CVAF) is encouraging people to come together online.
“What we’re asking folks to do in the context of this time, because we can’t get together this Memorial Day in the traditional venues, is to come together digitally, to honor the sacrifice of those fallen heroes by doing some small act of kindness in the community,” said John Byrnes, director of education at Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) and a veteran of both the U.S. Marines Corps and the U.S. Army.
CVA is a charitable organization whose mission is to empower the military community with the tools to promote freedom at home and connect veterans in need with free-market solutions to help them live healthy lives.
This Memorial Day weekend, CVA is partnering with Stand Together Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to supporting “community-based catalysts for social change helping impoverished people across the country,” according to its website.
“We’re working with Stand Together to help with the acts of kindness aspect of their #GiveTogetherNow campaign,” Byrnes explained.
By doing any act of kindness and posting it to a social media platform with the hashtag #GiveTogetherNow, Stand Together will donate $500 dollars to a family suffering financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You can make a mask for someone, you can go to the store or deliver someone’s groceries for them,” said Dhani Jones, former NFL linebacker and Stand Together Live host. “A delivery gentleman took garbage cans and brought them all the way up the driveway for somebody. You can go to a hospital and sing to nurses and doctors. We’re saying you can give the world to someone even if you have just your voice.”
To date, Stand Together has raised more than $58 million dollars, helping more than 116,000 families and counting. One of Stand Together’s donors pledged $2.5 million dollars to specifically support each act of kindness.
“The kindness piece was a special donor who wanted acts of kindness to unlock the money,” Jones said. “That could be 5,000 acts of kindness, which would distribute the full $2.5 million dollars, giving $500 dollars each to 5,000 families in need.”
This Memorial Day weekend, Jones, Stand Together and the CVA are encouraging people to come together by directing their acts of kindness toward veterans and military families as a way to honor our nation’s fallen heroes.
Help Heal Veterans, a nonprofit focused on using arts and crafts as a healing tool for veterans, is offering another alternative way to remember those in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice for Americans' freedom this Memorial Day weekend.
“Saturday, we’re having Operation Craftathon,” said Joe McClain, retired Navy captain and CEO of Help Heal Veterans.
This event will allow veterans, crafters or anyone interested to participate in a live, virtual craftathon to make face masks from scratch during COVID-19.
“It’s a way to bring our vets together with makers and crafters in a digital and social experience,” McClain explained. “Right now, with folks isolated, the more contact you have the better for the healing process, especially for our vets who may be depressed or anxious.”
This weekend, in lieu of going to a parade or large gathering, McClain encourages people to participate in their event Saturday and to remember those who have passed on by reaching out to their communities.
“I think it’s mostly just important to honor service members in whatever way you can and remember the folks who have given so much,” McClain said. “Maybe it's calling to say thank you to those that are still here, or helping them in some way, but for the most part, I think it’s taking a moment to reflect on what this holiday really means.”
By simply checking in with or helping service members in the community, as McClain suggested, and also posting the act of kindness to social media with the hashtag #GiveTogetherNow, people can make a real impact this Memorial Day by simultaneously helping a family in need during this pandemic.
“You can give kindness, especially this weekend,” Jones added. “But let’s celebrate kindness not just Memorial Day weekend, but for the rest of our lives.”