5 Alternatives to Drinking on Memorial Day

This coming Monday is Memorial Day, one of the most important of America’s Federal holidays. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day has been celebrated in one form or another since the first years after the Civil War. The day started as an occasion to decorate the graves of soldiers who had died, but it eventually came to be a time to remember and express gratitude to all of the brave service members of all branches of the armed forces who have died while serving their country.

Unfortunately, for millions of Americans, alcohol has become an integral part of Memorial Day celebrations. For many, Memorial Day is a time to “party” with friends and family, whether that be out at a bar or at a barbecue. Alcohol use can be so pervasive on Memorial Day that former alcoholics in recovery can find it difficult to maintain their sobriety due to temptation and perceived social pressure, or at the very least feel isolated and alone.

Luckily, there are many alternatives to drinking on Memorial Day. Here are 5 suggestions.

1. Decorate Fallen Soldiers’ Graves.

Why not celebrate Memorial Day in the way it was originally intended? The reason that Memorial Day was traditionally celebrated on May 30th was that it was assumed that flowers would be blooming everywhere across the United States at that time, meaning there would be enough flowers to decorate the graves of the fallen. Nowadays, decorations don’t have to be limited to flowers, and often include cards, personal effects, banners, and stuffed animals, among many other items. Many choose to decorate the graves of service members that they have a personal connection to, but many also choose to decorate the graves of the many service members whose graves go tragically untended.

2. Volunteer at a Veteran’s Organization.

There are thousands of organizations across the country that are dedicated to helping veterans in one way or another, and a beautiful way to honor the sacrifices of those who have died is to help those who are still living. Every organization has a different focus, ranging from providing veterans with necessary medical services to helping homeless veterans find housing and jobs. One thing that all of these organizations need is more resources and more volunteers. If you would like help finding a local organization, a good place to start is by contacting local veterans groups.

3. Write to a Deployed Service Member.

Memorial Day Can Be Celebrated In Many Ways Without AlcoholMany service members struggle with loneliness when on deployment, even when they are not involved in combat missions. They are often thousands of miles away from their homes and families, often in a country with a dramatically different culture. To help combat this loneliness, there are a number of groups that organize pen pal relationships between deployed service members and those back on the home front. Writing deployed service members gives them a connection that they may lack, raising their morale, reducing their loneliness, and generally improving their quality of life.

4. Enjoy Nature.

Sometimes, you need to get away from everything and find peace and solitude in nature. Although Memorial Day is one of the busiest days of the year at some popular natural destinations such as many beaches, lakes, rivers, and recreation areas, others are largely empty of visitors. Why not avoid temptation when it is at its most extreme and take yourself away from the situation entirely? If you are trying to find a quiet place, do some online research. There are many parks or wild spaces that are less crowded. Take this opportunity to reflect while surrounded by the quiet and beauty of the natural world.

5. Throw a Sober Barbecue.

Despite what many would have you believe, alcohol and barbecue are not inherently linked. Celebrate the holiday with others in recovery and those who support you. If you’re a cook, prepare the food yourself. If you’re not, have it catered by professionals. You can even make it potluck. Whatever option you choose, enjoy the day with the people who help you maintain your recovery, which is truly something to celebrate.

  • Author — Last Edited: May 14, 2019
    Photo of Jeffrey Juergens
    Jeffrey Juergens
    Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them. In his free time, Jeffrey chooses to spend time with family and friends, preferably outdoors.

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