Advice on Aging

Advice on Aging By Toni Lynn Davis, MHA, CNHA, FACHCA CEO and President Green Hill Inc.

Memorial Day Is a Day of Remembering for Seniors

Memorial Day is almost here and to most of us the day signals the beginning of the summer. The three-day weekend affords us the first barbecues of the season and planning for the end of the school year and summer vacations.

Memorial Day is a US Federal holiday where men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces are remembered and celebrated. The holiday has historical roots in this country and was originally called Decoration Day after the Civil War. Even older than the US remembrance the,  “Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago…”

1.1 million Americans have died in the nation’s wars by 2000 when the US Congress passed and the President signed “The National Moment of Remembrance Act” which created the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance where at 3pm of each local time zone there is a minute of silence to remember and honor those that died in service to our nation.

For millions of Americans, Memorial Day can be a somber day of remembrance for those of our service men and women who made the greatest sacrifice to our country, those who lost their lives in war. Of the 16,112,566 World War II service persons there were 405,399 deaths. There are an estimated 1,711,000 WWII veterans to remember them. In the Korean War of the 5,720,000 service persons there were 54,246 deaths and an estimated 2,275,000 veterans remaining to remember them. In the Vietnam War 8,744,000 served with an estimated 58,000 deaths, and an estimated 7,391,000 veterans living to remember them. These losses are also remembered by other friends and family members living in the US today.

Many of our senior citizens will spend the day thinking of loved ones, friends, family members and spouses who died in World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam War. Some have lost grandchildren even more recently in one of the Gulf Wars, or in Afghanistan.  Other seniors are veterans of war and will be remembering and missing their friends, platoon mates, and family members. For these seniors living at home, in residential settings or in nursing homes Memorial Day festivities should include the opportunity to talk about family members and memories invoked by the holiday. We should also make sure that during our celebratory activities that we hold a minute of silence at 3PM local time, as enacted by the National Moment of Remembrance Act. Celebration of the lives of our loved ones who lost their lives for us will be better enjoyed with the opportunity to remember their sacrifice with solemnity and sensitivity to the experience of our elders.