6 Ways to Connect with Your Community on Memorial Day
Posted May 22, 2019
5 min read
The following is a guest blog from Danielle Burmeister, Marketing Communications Manager at Homesteaders Life Company.
Funeral providers sometimes struggle to convey the value of what they do—how a thoughtfully planned funeral or celebration of life service can help survivors honor their loved ones and process their grief. Memorial Day offers the perfect opportunity to connect with your community and talk about the importance of memorialization while honoring local Veterans.
It’s the one of the year when businesses close, schools shut down and we collectively remember and honor the sacrifices of our military. What a beautiful tradition, and what a great opportunity for funeral professionals to offer additional support to their communities.
Below, I’ve included a number of ways you can connect with your community on Memorial Day, this year or in the future.
Offer a Free Meal for Veterans
Serve a free meal for Veterans and their families – breakfast or lunch are both great options. If local regulation allows, host the meal at your funeral home so those who attend can see and become comfortable in your facilities. If that is not an option, consider partnering with a local, independently-owned restaurant to host the event.
Provide some entertainment during the meal, like the community band, high school show choir or even a church group. Invite a local florist to design centerpieces and other decorations, and be sure to have some sort of gift to send home with attendees. Something simple–like a keepsake book or candle–can offer a meaningful reminder of the care and consideration you showed when they attended an event at your funeral home.
Work with Local Schools to Collect Cards for Veterans
Memorial Day is a great opportunity to build relationships with your local school district. Contact them to see if you and your staff could come in and work with elementary school kids to make cards to distribute to local Veterans. It doesn’t need to be fancy—just buy a bunch of red, white and blue construction paper and some crayons and let the kids have fun. While they are working, you can share with them the importance of celebrating our military and remembering those we’ve lost, while also collecting something really valuable for the Veterans in your community.
Later, you and your staff can distribute the cards at your local V.A. or hand them out to those who attend your other Veterans Day activities.
Collect and Retire Used American Flags
Many people don’t know how to honorably dispose of retired American flags. In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day, invite community members to bring in their used flags so you can retire them on their behalf. I once spoke with a funeral director who went the extra mile with the flags he collected. He would drape deceased Veterans in a retired flag prior to cremation. Beforehand, he would set aside one star from the flag and frame it as a keepsake for the family.
Collecting flags is an easy service you can provide for your community. If you’re not sure how to honorably dispose of the flags, reach out to your local V.A. for assistance.
Host an Event for Kids with Deployed Parents
On Memorial Day, consider inviting the families of deployed military to visit your funeral home for some family fun. Put up tables and lay out paper and crayons, a few board games, some children’s books and other family-friendly activities. You could even show a movie. Make sure you have some snacks available (fruit snacks, cheese and animal crackers are always a hit). You may even consider having a few of your staff members watch the kids while their parents enjoy a quiet—and much needed—cup of coffee.
Family-focused events can help you build relationships with your community and remove some of the stigma around visiting a funeral home.
Volunteer at a Local Cemetery
Many cemeteries have a lot of cleanup to do in the spring. Reach out to your local cemetery operators to see if they need a few extra hands to clean away debris left over from the winter months and post flags at the grave markers for Veterans. Then, invite your staff to join you in the clean-up efforts.
You could also work with the cemetery to organize a community-wide cleanup effort the week or two before Memorial Day.
Plan a Traditional Memorial Day Service
In my hometown, we always had a traditional, community-wide Memorial Day service. My dad and I would play “Taps,” the local V.A. would provide a 21-gun salute and our town Lincoln lookalike would recite the Gettysburg Address. Consider hosting a similar event in your funeral home or at a local community center. Place an ad in the local newspaper (and a few posts on your social media channels) inviting community members to attend.
Ask prominent members of your community (pastors, teachers, business owners, etc.) to help host the event and greet your guests. Reach out to client families who had a loved one serve in the military. Invite Veterans to attend, and be sure to recognize them at some point in the service.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list. There are many, many ways to connect with your community on Memorial Day, and you know best what outreach is likely to be most meaningful. The important thing is to do something on Memorial Day to reach out and honor the Veterans in your community.
Homesteaders is a national leader providing life insurance products and services that promote and support the funding of advance funeral planning and end-of-life expenses. Visit their website for more information.
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