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SU Institute For Veterans And Military Families Shares How To Honor Fallen Service Members

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Syracuse University
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A Senior Research Associate for Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families hopes the true meaning of the Memorial Day holiday will be observed and discussed among families and friends.  Deborah Bradbard said she understands that people most typically think about the start of summer and celebrating when the holiday weekend arrives.

But, she wants people to know they should also consider setting aside time to properly observe the holiday itself.

“This is a day to recognize and honor the service of those who have lost their lives as a result of serving their country. Because of that saying ‘Happy Memorial Day’ isn’t quite appropriate,” said Bradbard. “So, it’s just important to recognize that is the purpose of Memorial Day.”

Bradbard said since 9/11, more than 7,000 US service members have lost their lives.  She said even if you don’t know any of them personally, you can talk about it with your family or take an active part to show support.

“Discussing with your children or your grandchildren what the meaning of Memorial Day is, or reaching out to a Gold Star Family. That’s a family that’s lost a service member. Offering support to them, because families are often times the ones who are affected the most when someone dies as a result of their service,” said Bradbard.

She suggests other ways to observe and reflect on the holiday like displaying an American flag and lowering it to half-staff, volunteering to lay wreaths at a Veterans cemetery, and visiting monuments or a war memorial.   

“A very small minority of our population is serving in the military. And it’s those days in particular that we recognize those service members,” said Bradbard. “But it’s nice when we recognize them throughout the year, and not just on those days alone.”

Bradbard admits she was once among those who didn’t know the meaning herself until she married her husband who served 26 years as an accomplished US Navy Pilot.  Now, it’s even more important for her to know the public will honor those who sacrificed and died while serving on Memorial Day, and show gratitude and appreciation on Veterans Day, as well.