Memorial Day Flowers Foundation: Thanking Veterans for Their Service

May 23, 2019 - Our Communities DC, DE, MD, VA Florida Maine New England New Jersey, New York and PA North and South Carolina

Arlington National Cemetery has always been a sacred place for TD Wealth Market Leader Brenda Reny. As a child, her school bus would pass the cemetery every day, and as she grew older, it became more meaningful: Brenda's mother, who served as an Army Nurse in WWII and her stepfather, a Navy veteran, both were interred in the military cemetery.

So it made perfect sense for Brenda to get involved in 2011 when her friend Robin Penaherrera told her about the Memorial Day Flowers Foundation (MDFF), a Washington, D.C.-based program he had just co-founded to honor veterans by placing flowers on their graves at Arlington National Cemetery and thanking them for their service.

This year, MDFF's efforts have grown to 150 cemeteries across the country. In 2018, MDFF volunteers laid nearly 220,000 roses on graves in Arlington, and nationwide, there were more than 1,000 volunteers. TD Bank sponsors the program at 11 National cemeteries.

Take Time to Honor Veterans

At Arlington Cemetery on the Sunday before Memorial Day, each MMFD volunteer receives a bucket of 125 flowers to place on graves. Volunteers read the headstone inscription and thank the veteran for their service before moving on to the next grave.

"This is about honoring our country and history," Robin said. "Family members of the veterans are incredibly grateful someone took the time to remember."

Robin noted that many families volunteer together so it’s a great way for children to learn about history by reading the headstones.

"This is a leveler—there are no distinctions of class, gender, age, education, orientation, ethnicity, or religion on that weekend," Brenda said. "People come to Arlington, and to the other National cemeteries in the United States, simply to honor the fallen. It's a humbling and wonderful sense of community that seems sorely lacking in other parts of our busy lives."

Brenda says often she receives hugs from people who tell their personal stories about their family members.

"It's amazing to hear those, and to see their response when they realize that someone cares enough to bear witness, and to bring free flowers for them to lay on the graves," Brenda said.  

Brenda encourages all to take the time this Memorial Day weekend and all year-round to honor veterans.

"I think taking the time to stop and reflect is wonderful," Brenda said. "On the other 364 days of the year, either volunteering locally at one of the many organizations that serve veterans, or contributing financially if you're able, is just terrific. If you have a veteran in your family, maybe just make a call. The simplest of gestures are greatly appreciated."


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