Honoring the fallen on Memorial Day: What you can do

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Flags and flowers sit in front of headstones
Flags and flowers sit in front of headstones at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery on Memorial Day.
Doualy Xaykaothao | MPR News 2017

A day to pay tribute to those who died while serving in the military, Memorial Day can trace its origins to three years after the end of the Civil War.

It was originally called Decoration Day — a day where family and friends visited and decorated the graves of fallen soldiers. The holiday, which Congress made a national holiday in 1971, honors those who died in all American wars.

Here are a few places you can go, and things you can do to honor the fallen this weekend.

Minnesota Remembers

While they have already met their goals for volunteers and monetary donations, you can still donate to Flags for Fort Snelling, part of the Minnesota Remembers event at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. The fundraiser helps the nonprofit's volunteers place thousands of flags at the Minneapolis cemetery over Memorial Day weekend.

You can still request a volunteer to place a flag on a gravesite.

You can also visit the Mall of America on Saturday, where several events surrounding Minnesota Remembers are being held. That includes the opportunity to create a memorial card showing appreciation for the families of those who have lost a family member in battle.

You can volunteer to collect flags on Thursday.

Veterans History Project

If you know a veteran who would like to share their story, you can interview them and have your conversation archived in the Library of Congress. The nationwide project was created by Congress in 2000.

Just download the kit on the Veterans History Project website and follow the instructions. In the kit is a series of guidelines and requirements for your submission as well as some example interview questions.

The project also collects photos and correspondence so veterans get their stories told for future generations.

VA Voluntary Service

The VA Medical Centers in Minneapolis and St. Cloud are taking donations of money or needed items. You can also apply to be a volunteer at a local VA by filling out an online form, from there a representative will help find where you are needed.

Place flags/volunteer at your local cemetary

Like Flags for Fort Snelling, some VFW posts around Minnesota will be placing flags near the gravestones of fallen soldiers. Check with your local VFW to see if it has any ceremonies or events this weekend you can help out with. Use this online form to find a VFW near you.

In addition, you can check with any local cemeteries to see if they are placing flags, or if you can lend a hand in maintenance or lowering and raising flags.