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How to observe Memorial Day and help military families in 2022

There are so many ways to show support and respect.
Military funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery
An Old Guard Soldier wears a face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while rendering honors at a military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery on April 14, 2020. Many more public gatherings will be possible this year at this stage of the pandemic.Elizabeth Fraser / U.S. Army/Arlington National Cemetery via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

For families who have lost military loved ones in death, Memorial Day matters. It’s a time of year when they feel that all the sacrifices — and all the loss — are appreciated by others outside their immediate families.

Here are some ways to observe Memorial Day in 2022 and also help grieving military families and veterans in need.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery will be open to the public from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET over Memorial Day weekend. The wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is scheduled for noon ET on Monday, May 30, followed by an observance program in the Memorial Amphitheater. A prelude by the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” will begin in the amphitheater at 11:15 a.m. The public can view the ceremonies live via this link.

Additional virtual opportunities exist for people who can't make the trek to Arlington National Cemetery in person. When the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier turned 100 in 2021, the cemetery launched a virtual history exhibit about the tomb. In 2020, the cemetery unveiled an online exhibit to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of its Memorial Amphitheater. The centennial exhibit allows people to explore Arlington’s grounds virtually. More online exhibits can be found here.

VA flag-placement and wreath-laying ceremonies

After two years without gatherings because of the coronavirus pandemic, the national cemeteries managed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will host public Memorial Day ceremonies this weekend. A complete list of more than 120 Memorial Day events at national cemeteries can found at this link. Live streaming, videos and photos from many ceremonies will be shared on the National Cemetery Administration's Facebook and Twitter pages.

Carry The Load

The Dallas-based group Carry The Load began a decade ago as a grassroots effort by two U.S. Navy SEAL veterans who felt that many people across the United States had forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day. The group’s Memorial May campaign features a 20,000-mile national relay and 100 city rallies that culminate with the Dallas Memorial March, a two-day rally over Memorial Day weekend on May 29 and 30.

Children participate in the Carry The Load Midwest Relay at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, on May 22, 2021.
Children participate in the Carry The Load Midwest Relay at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, on May 22, 2021.Courtesy of Carry The Load

Carry The Load also raises money to help military and first-responder families with counseling, suicide prevention, service dogs, job placement, home improvements, scholarships for children of the fallen, and other services. To help support such efforts, click here.

Veterans Legacy Memorial

The Veterans Legacy Memorial is an online database of the more than 4 million service members and veterans interred in national cemeteries. Online visitors can leave written comments of tribute for any of those individuals.

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)

TAPS provides care and resources to anyone grieving the death of a military loved one. Much of that support happens at in-person events, including “Good Grief Camps” for children and TAPS’ national seminar over Memorial Day weekend in Washington, D.C. This year, seminar sessions also can be attended virtually.

Military family members who are struggling with grief or needing other support can contact the TAPS 24/7 National Military Survivor Helpline at (800) 959-TAPS (8277).

Gold Star Wives of America

Gold Star Wives of America is a congressionally chartered organization that helps widows and widowers who lost their spouses to military-related causes of death. To learn more about the help that’s available navigating benefits and finding support, click here.

American Gold Star Mothers

American Gold Star Mothers is an organization of moms whose sons or daughters died in the line of duty or as a result of injuries while on active duty. To learn more or support Gold Star Mothers, click here.

Patriot Guard Riders

Throughout the year, Patriot Guard Riders attend the funeral services of military service members, first responders and veterans. The group also helps military families and veterans through its “Help on the Homefront” programs.

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