Memorial Day Celebrates Wondrous American Freedoms, and Those Who Defend Them

American flag

It’s Memorial Day weekend 2022, the official start of summer (although the June 21 solstice might disagree). This is the holiday when we remember fallen military with love and gratitude, while celebrating all the freedoms and fun of the nation they defended.

First things first. After limited admittance to veteran’s cemeteries for much of the pandemic, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) announced that it is hosting commemoration ceremonies at more than 120 national cemeteries this weekend for the first time since 2020.

In that statement, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said, “There is no more fitting place to reflect upon the service and sacrifice of America’s Veterans and service members than in a national cemetery. Here lie those who served, sacrificed and — in many cases — gave their lives for us and our country. We are forever in their debt.”

For those who can’t visit these revered sites, the VA “encourages all Americans to honor a fallen servicemember by leaving a tribute on the Veterans Legacy Memorial site. It contains a memorial page for each of the nearly 4.5 million Veterans and service members interred in VA national cemeteries or VA grant-funded state, territorial or tribal Veterans cemeteries.”

More Value for Veterans

Now, for the fun and freedom.

Much as we love freedom, let’s spend a moment focusing on just the “free” part — or things that attempt to approximate it, like the discounts and deals happening now from sea to shining sea.

Cars are worth their weight in precious metal in 2022 — not gold, but maybe bronze — so if you’re a veteran (and in some cases a veteran’s family member) you can buy a car for near pre-pandemic prices while the rest of us look on, secretly wishing we had joined the Air Force.

A CarsDirect blog post noted that “over a dozen car brands are offering military discounts on cars, trucks, and SUVs in 2022. However, these military car rebates can vary and encompass different branches of service. In most cases, veterans, retirees, as well as spouses, and members of the same household may be eligible for car deals when buying or leasing.”

With cars very much impacted by the double whammy of supply chain snags and inflation, it’s encouraging that Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at the auto information site Edmunds, told Fox Business, “We’re seeing far more generous incentives and deals out there than we typically would for Memorial Day weekend, and since more consumers might be looking at vehicles for summer road trips instead of airline travel, things might look up a bit for the industry.”

Newsweek has assembled a slew of Memorial Day deals from some of the country’s most recognized names in retail from Converse sneakers to Jiffy Lube and Walgreens, offering service members and their families double-digit discounts on meals to wheels.

A Comfy Mattress — and a House to Put It In

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect in 1971, creating the three-day weekend we’ve all come to love and cherish. It also invented another useful shopping “holiday.”

One item that’s become particularly associated with Memorial Day sales is mattresses.

As Entrepreneur recently reported, “Almost 40 million Americans move each year, and more than half of them will move between May and September. That means that once spring rolls around (and Memorial Day with it) roughly 24 million people are probably thinking about an impending move, which comes with all of the usual considerations.” Like a new mattress.

It added that “blowout Memorial Day mattress sales serve as a prime opportunity to snag a bargain on what can be a very high-cost item. It’s an important purchase too, as despite research that shows Americans spend an average of 36 years in bed over the course of a lifetime, three in four Americans think their bed could be more comfortable.”

And how about helping veterans and their families get the house to put that mattress?

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation (T2T), established in the name of New York City Fire Department (NYFD) firefighter Stephen Siller who was killed performing rescue operations at former Twin Towers on 9/11/01, announced, “In observance of Memorial Day, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation is honoring the memory of 21 servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country by paying off the mortgage on their homes.”

That news comes about a month after novelist, philanthropist and Jeff Bezos ex-wife MacKenzie Scott announced an unrestricted $15 million donation to Tunnel to Towers Foundation to complete its goal of providing 1,000 mortgage-free homes nationwide to military and first responders by the end of 2022.

Have fun, be safe, and maybe randomly thank a service member. They really do appreciate it.