In times divided, we are united in our responsibility to honor the fallen. This Memorial Day weekend, let’s take a few moments to settle our minds and direct thoughts of gratitude to those who died fighting for American ideals and freedoms.

Mindful Memorial Day was inaugurated two years ago by Armor Down, a Washington, DC-based organization dedicated to helping our military service members make a successful transition back to civilian life. Armor Down’s founder, disabled Iraq War veteran Ben King, believes that the traumas created by our wars should not be left to the military alone to solve. To that end, Armor Down actively promotes the increased use of mindfulness techniques to help those still suffering and to provide a unique opportunity for veterans and civilians to unite around their shared practice.

This year’s event is produced under the auspices of the nonprofit Mindful Memorial Day Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. It is a joint project of Armor Down and Student Veterans of America (SVA), with major support also provided by McGuireWoods.

Activities begin on Sunday, May 17, inside the Women’s Memorial at the gates of Arlington National Cemetery (http://www.womensmemorial.org). At 8 a.m., following a brief ceremony, volunteers will begin hanging 6,820 yellow ribbons in remembrance of our fallen warriors, especially those from our most recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Fallen Warrior Ribbon Memorial will remain on display in the Exhibit Gallery for the entire week preceding Memorial Day Weekend. During this time, visitors are welcome between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

On Friday, May 22, SVA is sponsoring a banquet at the Women’s Memorial in honor of Gold Star Mothers and Spouses. Following the banquet, the Gold Stars will become the first to be invited to take down a ribbon in honor of a son, daughter, husband or mother. If they wish, they can memorialize their loved one on the Mindful Memorial Day Facebook page.

On Saturday, May 23, the observance begins with an 8 a.m. ceremonial meditation for volunteers. Afterward, volunteers will bring the Ribbon Memorial to life by conducting visitors into the Exhibit Gallery, explaining the significance of the ribbons, and guiding them through the process of honoring an individual warrior by offering a mindful moment of gratitude. If they consent, visitors will take down a single ribbon and be given an adhesive label containing the name, date of death, and operation of a fallen warrior. The label is then applied to the ribbon, which can be worn around the neck. After returning home, visitors can post a tribute to that warrior on the event’s Facebook page.

Sunday, May 24, follows the same schedule. The Exhibit Gallery closes at 5 p.m. on both days.

For more information, or to offer your services as a volunteer or sponsor, contact Ben King at
(202) 487-5734 or ben@mindfulmemorial.org.

More about MMD at www.armordown.com.