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8 Writing Prompts for Memorial Day Memories - Treasure Chest of Memories

An antique postcard of the Gettysburg cemetery and the words 8 writing prompts for Memorial Day Memories

Here in the USA, most of us observe Memorial Day, but our traditions and Memorial Day memories differ greatly. What does Memorial Day mean to you? What recollections stand out to you? Take advantage of these ideas for reflecting on the holiday. Put pen to paper and let the memories flow.

Family Traditions

What traditions do you or your family have around Memorial Day? Is it a day of remembrance or a time that the family gets together? Or both?

Do you hang a flag outside? Visit a cemetery? Host or attend a picnic? Attend the Indy500? What does the tradition mean to you?

Here in Michigan, spring is usually just arriving by the end of May. People open swimming pools or go to the lake. After the long winter, a happy vibe prevails. I often wondered if that was unpatriotic or insensitive.

However, after touring the Washington, DC, World War II Memorial on a hot summer day, I felt a little differently. The pools weren’t solemn reflections, but a place toddlers cooled their feet and couples reached in to splash each other. In the shadows, weary tourists rested their feet, taking in the scene.

It occurred to me that the scene personified everything those veterans fought for. A carefree summer day with family steps away from the seats of government.

What do you think?

Memorial Day Parades

Do you have any memories of attending or taking part in a veteran’s day parade? Was it a yearly tradition or a special opportunity? What stands out in your Memorial Day memories about a particular parade?

Veteran Ancestors’ Service

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the official start to what was then known as “Decoration Day” took place on May 5, 1868. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) decorated the graves of the war dead with flowers.

An old photo of the Gettysburg National Cemetery dated July 3, 1913

The Gettysburg National Cemetery, photo dated July 3, 1913

Do you have ancestors who lost their lives in the civil or a foreign war? Do their graves carry an insignia? Have you added photos of their grave markers to your family tree? Describe what you know about their service and what you wish you could know.

Hint: The Veteran’s Association has an online gravesite locater to help find family buried in veteran’s cemeteries.

Veteran Ancestors’ “Rest of the Story”

What else do you know about your ancestors or family members who gave the ultimate sacrifice? Did you have a chance to know them? What were they like?

Write a Tribute to a Veteran in your Life

Is there a military member, retired or active, who is a hero to you? What’s his or her story? How have they served their country? What sacrifices have they made?

Generational Military Service

Does your family have multiple generations of individuals who have served in the military? How did that family legacy start? What do you think motivates them to serve? Why do you think the tradition runs in some families?

Make some Memorial Day Memories

Celebrate Decoration Day

Visit some veterans’ graves, leaving flowers, notes, or other signs of respect.

Afterward, jot down some notes about what you did and how it made you feel.

Spend time with a Veteran

Of course, that alone is a great memory-maker. If your relationship and setting allow for it, ask questions about his or her service. How do they feel about it? How has it shaped their life?

Be sure to record any new perspectives they gave you.

Read Related Posts for More Ideas

7 Ways to Honor Veterans without Leaving Home

Memorializing Veterans on Memorial Day (2015) 

Your Turn: What are your Memorial Day Memories?

Please share them in the comment section. Also, include what ideas you’d add to this list of prompts! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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