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Saturday, December 15 , 2018, 5:23 pm | Fair 63º


Tom Purcell: On Memorial Day, Small Gestures Key to Honoring Their Sacrifice

“Parades, mattress sales and burgers on the grill are all nice, but I feel we should do more to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

“Ah, yes, you speak of the Memorial Day holiday, a day intended to honor the men and women who gave their lives to protect the freedoms too many Americans take for granted.”

“That’s right. Look, there should be debate about the wars we have been fighting, but there should be no debate about honoring the men and women who died serving our country — or the men and women who continue to serve.”

“I couldn’t agree more. Millions of service people have sacrificed plenty over the years. According to the Veterans Affairs Department, nearly 42 million American men and women have served during wartime. Nearly 1.5 million were wounded. Nearly 1.2 million died.”

“Honoring these people with annual parades is a nice gesture, but we can all do more to support our troops.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“The Veterans of Foreign Wars says we can write to people who are serving overseas or recuperating in military hospitals. These individuals love receiving emails, letters and care packages.”

“A wonderful start. What else can we do to better support the troops?”

“Donate time. The local VFW, the American Legion and other legitimate organizations are always in need of volunteers to support a variety of fundraising and recognition events. Simply contact your local VFW or American Legion office to learn how you may help.”

“Surely we can donate money, too?”

“Anyone can help fund a variety of needed services for military members — or support the American Red Cross to provide basic necessities to service members in military hospitals. Just be sure you are funding a legitimate organization. Regrettably, there are some charlatans out there. Before giving money, check out the organization at a respectable validation service, such as charitywatch.org.”

“That’s sound advice. What else can we do?”

Lori Felix, an Army veteran and founder of More With Less Today, offers simple and inexpensive ways we can serve the military and its families at Military.com. She suggests that even small gestures of kindness, such as volunteering to place flags at gravesites, are more than welcome.”


“Offering assistance to the families of service members who have been deployed is helpful, too. Life can be tough for a husband or wife left behind as his or her spouse serves overseas. Felix writes that we can ‘Extend a hand in friendship to a military family. Invite them over for a meal, bring them a meal or invite them out for dinner. Something as simple as running an errand or taking a walk together can forge a friendship.’”

“What can we do to help the older men and women who have served?”

“Felix suggests we contact a nursing home or a veterans hospital: ‘A visit can brighten a day and help veterans to know they are not forgotten. The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has a Facebook page that provides inspiration and ideas.’”

“I have another idea that is near and dear to my own heart. There are war memorials in many aging communities that are being neglected. It takes a few volunteers, basic lawn equipment and some elbow grease to bring them back to life. Cleaning them up for Memorial Day is one of the most rewarding projects I ever participated in!”

“So we have a plan: If we want to especially enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, first offer up a small gesture of kindness in honor or those who served and are still serving!”

Tom Purcell, author of Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood and Wicked Is the Whiskey: A Sean McClanahan Mystery, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist, syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter: @PurcellTom. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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