Pay Tribute On Memorial Day Virtually


Not everyone will spend the Memorial Day weekend consumed with backyard barbecues, beach parties and sales. Plenty of people also will take the time to honor the day’s original purpose: to remember all those who have given their lives in military service to the country. The Arlington National Cemetery will hold its Memorial Day event. The National Mall will host a concert, parade and other events. The annual Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally will honor prisoners of war and those missing in action. Individual branches of the service and many local organizations also will hold observances. But Memorial Day, created in 1865 as Decoration Day to honor those who died in the Civil War and since expanded to cover all wars, can also be observed in other ways, one of them being a virtual tour of one or more of the websites attached to the nation’s war memorials. Here are a few:

www.nps.gov/nwwm: The National Park Service’s World War II Memorial website not only commemorates WW II, it includes a link to the American Battle Monuments Commission’s World War II Registry, where you can search for names of those who died.

www.archives.gov/veterans: The National Archives and Records Administration’s Veterans’ Service Records site offers a searchable records database and genealogy tools for finding family members.

http://thewall-usa.com: The Vietnam Memorial is the most interactive of the memorial sites. It lets visitors search the Wall that makes up the monument for the names of those who died and offers an expansive list of other features including a photo gallery, literary section, Women on the Wall and a list of Medal of Honor winners. Visitors can also sign a virtual guest book and leave their comments.

www.nps.gov/kowa: NPS’ Korean War Veterans Memorial site doesn’t offer a virtual experience, but it does offer history and will help you plan a visit.

www.mapthefallen.org: For servicemen and women who have died in the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, a new application, Map the Fallen, employs present-day tools such as Google Earth to ensure they are not forgotten. The map provides links to personal histories and photos of the fallen, along with memorial websites with comments from friends and family members. The project is a collaborative effort, and is soliciting input and corrections to the map from visitors.

www.wwimemorial.org / www.theworldwar.org: If you want to honor those who died in World War I, you can visit the site of the World War I Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C., or the National World War I Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.

To go back to the origins of Memorial Day, there are a host of sites that mark the Civil War, from the National Civil War Memorial to National Park Services sites that commemorate major battles of the war, such as Gettysburg National Military Park or the Antietam National Battlefield.

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10 Ways To Commemorate Memorial Day

To help educate all Americans on Memorial Day’s importance, the National WWII Museum is launching a number of initiatives, including a new website, www.mymemorialday.org, which offers 10 things anyone can do to share and commemorate the holiday. The Museum’s Memorial Day suggestions include:

  • Thanking a veteran.
  • Placing an American flag on the grave of a veteran.
  • Visiting a military museum or historic military site.
  • Writing a veteran and thanking them for their services to the nation.
  • Organizing a community-wide observance.
  • Honoring a veteran with a brick at The National WWII Museum.
  • Changing their Facebook profile to an American flag.
  • Writing a letter to the editor of a local newspaper to remind their community about Memorial Day’s significance.