Honoring Memorial Day the ONA Way

BBQ’s, camping, swimming, family, and friends…the unofficial kick-off to summer! Those arethe typical thoughts associated with Memorial Day. But, we know there is a deeper meaning to this historic and heartfelt day.

First things first, what’s the difference in these holidays?

  • Memorial Day: Honors those who died while serving
  • Veterans Day: Honors those who have served
  • Armed Forces Day: Honors those currently serving

Memorial Day is celebrated annually on the last Monday in May. It was originally noted as ‘Decoration Day’, which first began after the Civil War. Decoration Day is exactly what it sounds like, where people would use flowers to decorate war memorials and grave sites to remember the lives of fallen soldiers. Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Today, we still use this holiday as an opportunity to honor those who lost their lives while serving their country. We also use it to honor those friends and family members that are no longer with us. This holiday will look different as we continue to adjust to our ‘new normal’ lives of social distancing, face masks, and respecting stay at home orders. However, that doesn’t diminish the honor and values that come along with this day.

Personal Story from our ONA Intern:

Memorial Day is usually spent with family and friends enjoying a cookout if the weather is permitting in Wisconsin. However, my family usually takes part in my community’s annual Memorial Day Parade and special cemetery ceremony by our local Daughters of the American Revolution in part honoring local history buffs and those interested in veteran affairs. The most special part about my Memorial Day celebration happens at my mom’s family cemetery. My grandma and mom always get flowers to decorate the gravesites for the members of our family no longer with us.

About 4 years ago, my brother inspired me with his act of respect and kindness for others. He took a few of the extra fake flowers and took to decorating every veteran’s grave with a flower. Most who didn’t have any or were from long ago and did not have a family to honor them anymore. He explained, “I see how much respect our veterans and military do not get. I thought this was a simple way I could honor a few of those members who died for our freedom”. He has such a passion for showing love and respect to veterans both alive and passed on, that he inspired me to do the same! I think the best way to celebrate Memorial Day is to be thankful for the freedoms you have and participate in a local honoring ceremony to remember how you got them! 

Allison Foster
Communications Intern

Giving’s Impact on You and Non-Profit Organizations During a Global Crisis

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

Have you ever bought someone’s coffee? Left a generous tip? Or simply let someone go ahead of you in line? It makes you feel good right? You are glad that you were able to make someone’s life a little better or a little easier. As human beings, we fundamentally feel good when we do good things for others. It is in our DNA to give and share with others. In fact, the chemical response that our body produces from doing these good things could relieve stress that we hold, help us combat certain plaguing thoughts, and could even help us live longer!

Giving is a part of our DNA and scientists have spent years studying the effects on our mental, emotional, and physical health. When evaluating the brain, we see the effects that giving has on it, because of how we have evolved. Every time you do an altruistic act for others or give back in any way (big or small), it triggers a release of “happiness chemicals” in our brains; such as dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin which gives us a sense of inner peace and tranquility. Arguably, it makes it better to give rather than receive because of those happy chemicals in our brain. Research shows that this can be achieved by donating money, volunteering our time, or even just the thought of giving can make us happy. Currently, our social interactions and ability to volunteer our time can be challenging, so it is good news that we can get the same satisfaction from donating money or putting a little thought effort into giving back! According to a recent USA News article, these kinds of contributions can even help us extend our lives more than going to church or regular exercise! We could all use a few more bright spots and joy in our lives. When something so simple can give you so many benefits like reducing depression, make you happier, and even extend your life – why would you not?

The times we are currently living in are difficult, for everyone, and for a variety of reasons. We obsessively watch the news to see how COVID-19 is moving and shaking. We are concerned about the health and safety of ourselves and our families. However, the deeper we dive into weeks of self-quarantine and social distancing we see more challenges facing us. We may experience loneliness, stress from going to the grocery store to having to go to work, depression, sadness, and even anger. We don’t realize how much we truly rely on others until we can’t be together to go out, have in-person conversations or even help each other in the same ways that we used to. We grieve the loss of life as we know it and that in itself can be very hard. However, just because a global pandemic is sweeping all around us, it doesn’t mean that we can’t find things to fill our time and our hearts. There is a solution! One that gives us hope and fulfills one of our greatest needs as humans. Giving. Which is just as vital for you, as it is for organizations you give to. It just makes a heart feel good! 

The non-profits you know and love are pivoting in their services to provide even more to the world. We see people providing for our healthcare heroes, providing masks and other PPE, making sure that people are fed and taken care of. We see the impacts of these groups from time to time, but in times of crisis, these organizations are in their element because their spirit of giving and serving is magnified. Those who run and are involved with these organizations have a heart of service for the people they serve and could be serving. It is truly amazing to see the unique ways that people band together for the greater good! 

So today, we challenge you to focus on the good, focus on joy, and focus on the acts of giving – no matter what form they take. Your help and support will be vital to the lives of organizations across the world, and your mental and emotional health will thank you in return.

Allison Foster
Communications Intern

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