This weekend will be filled with Memorial Day celebrations. Now is the time for people to finalize their plans for this three day weekend. For genealogists, this is an opportunity to dig into your own family history, and learn a little bit more about your ancestors.
Memorial Day is a legal holiday in the United States. This basically means that workers are supposed to get the holiday off of work, so that they can honor military men and women who gave their lives to serve their country. Obviously, not everyone will actually get to take the day off of work. Those who do get the day off might or might not follow through with the intended spirit of the holiday.
In any case, Memorial Day is the perfect weekend for genealogists to take the time to connect with living relatives and also to learn more about their ancestors. You can do something simple, at home, or you can venture out and join in the celebrations that your city or town has organized. It’s all up to you.
Here are a few ideas for genealogists who want to incorporate Memorial Day into their hobby:
Go attend a parade. There should be a town or city near you that has organized a Memorial Day parade. If you want to connect with living relatives, then bring them with you, and share the experience. Teach young family members about the importance of honoring veterans, and remembering those who lost their lives while serving their country. Some parades may include people from a local historical society. This is a good place to visit to learn more about the history of your town.
Devote part of this weekend to that box of old family photos that you never got around to sorting out. There could be photos of ancestors who served in the military. What else do you know about that relative? Now is the time to start tracking down vital records for that person.
Ancestry.com is a good place to start, for many reasons. They have a huge archive of military records. They will give you a fourteen day free trial so you can check out their service. In the past, Ancestry.com has released their military records for free, even to non-members, on national holidays that are designed to honor and remember military men and women.
Those of you with a creative streak could put together a scrapbook that honors one or more of your family members that were in the military. Craft stores should have plenty of military themed scrapbook papers and decorations to choose from right now.
It is customary to visit the graves of your ancestors who were in the service on Memorial Day. Decorate their grave with a small American flag. Genealogists can take a moment to photograph the gravestone and make a record of it. Compare the birth and death days that are on the gravestone to your other genealogy research about that person.
Image by Carissa Rogers on Flickr