Most of us look forward to Memorial Day as an unofficial kick-off to summer. We appreciate a very needed three-day weekend to rest, relax, cook out and picnic. But for many families, Memorial Day is a sobering day. It is a time to remember and honor military brothers and sisters who died in the service of our country.

I am one of those who lost a brother in the service of his country. That loss forever changed our family. And because I lived in a military town for most of my adult life, I am acutely aware of all the families that grieve for those who died in military service.

So, this year, remember the families who have experienced loss and sacrificed so much to protect our freedom. Here are 10 ways to honor our soldiers who died:

1) Explain the significance of the day to your children. Make sure they know this is more than a day to cook out and go to the lake. Explain why this day is so important.

2) Fly the American flag at half-mast.

3) Visit a war museum or memorial.

4) Place a red poppy on the grave of a veteran (a symbol of the blood of heroes that never dies).

5) Take a moment for a silent prayer and pray for those still in harm’s way.

6) Attend a parade or religious service honoring our fallen soldiers.

7) Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance (pause at 3:00 p.m. your time zone).

8) Give a donation to a veteran charity like the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

9) Sponsor a thank-you bouquet through the National Memorial Day Foundation ( ). You can dedicate your bouquet to a fallen soldier.

10) Ask your school to be involved in the Adopt a Grave program –the school takes care of a grave of a fallen soldier by keeping it clean and placing flowers on it.

There aren’t words to express the gratitude I feel to those who bravely fought for our freedom. Thank you to all the soldiers and families who made the ultimate sacrifice. We remember and honor you this Memorial Day.