Respectful Ways Your Business Can Celebrate Memorial Day

Memorial Day promotions can be a great way to kick off the unofficial start of summer. But if you’re not careful, you may offend some customers by promoting the wrong message. Take a look at these respectful ways your business can promote Memorial Day as part of your marketing plan. 

Memorial Day vs. Veterans Day

It’s important to understand the difference between these two holidays. Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U. S. military. It falls on the last Monday in May. In contrast, Veterans Day (November 11) honors all who have served in the Armed Forces.

So Memorial Day promotions that recognize living veterans can miss the mark. Some might interpret it as lessening the contribution of those who made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. Save your “thank a (living) veteran for their service” promotions for Veterans Day celebrations.

While both of these holidays promote military service and use similar flag imagery, it’s important to use the appropriate messaging for both.

Memorial Day Promotions

Pay attention to the tone you use when designing your Memorial Day promotions. You want to strike the right balance between solemnity and celebration. Here are some ideas your business can use to appropriately recognize Memorial Day:

Display the flag.

One of the simplest observances is to display the flag in your business. It’s a powerful symbol and a reminder to customers of your support for fallen military members. Be careful to follow flag etiquette when you display it. For example, on Memorial Day, the flag is flown at half-staff until noon, then raised. In addition, be careful to avoid using the flag for advertising purposes.

Honor fallen soldiers using your social media platforms.

Nearly everyone has a connection with a soldier who was killed in the line of duty. It might be a family member, friend or community member. Use your social platforms to share their story. This idea helps you balance the serious and festive tone of the day.

For example, post the service member’s photo on your business Facebook page along with brief identifying information (relationship, rank, branch of service, dates when served). Then invite your staff and followers to do the same. Because of their personal connection to the soldiers, people tend to share their post with others in their network. So you extend the reach of your tribute.

Sponsor a community event.

Many communities hold their own Memorial Day observances, often at local cemeteries or monuments. Piggyback on the momentum of these events by becoming a contributing sponsor, or co-sponsor it with a veteran’s organization. For example, you might provide the small flags placed by graves of fallen service members. Another idea is to provide supplies (and labor) for clean-up of a veteran’s cemetery.

Be careful to take a low-key approach to your sponsorship. A table with your logo to pass out supplies may be all that is needed to make the connection. The focus should be on honoring the soldiers.

Support families of fallen soldiers.

Another way to honor soldiers is to support the families they leave behind. reports 97% of military casualties leave behind a single parent. Of those, 60% report having trouble making ends meet.

There are several organizations that support these families. For example, Fallen Patriots provides college scholarships and educational counseling to military children with a parent who was killed in the line of duty. TAPS provides counseling and retreats for like-families to gather in support. Your local community service agency may have other options in your community.

Some businesses contribute to causes like this by donating a portion of their sales on Memorial Day. Others ask customers if they would like to “round up” to the nearest dollar as a donation to the cause. Both are subtle ways your business can show their support.

Memorial Day is an important opportunity to show your support for fallen soldiers. While it may be tempting to promote summer sun and fun, it’s more respectful to celebrate the real meaning of the holiday. Leave the beach balls for another campaign. Start by considering these ideas to reach the right tone for your Memorial Day promotions.

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