A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: The Meaning of Memorials

It’s Memorial Day here in the U.S. — a day that means many things to many people. It’s intended to be a day to stop, remember, and honor those who lost their lives in our wars, in service to our country. For many of us, the meaning of the day has expanded to include remembering everyone we’ve lost to death. For others, it’s just a holiday, a day off in which to host family picnics and kick off the summer with a barbecue. Whatever the meaning of this day to you, your feelings about it are certain to be complicated.

I invite you to use any or all of these six journaling prompts to explore the meaning — or lack of meaning — of this day for you:

  1. Freewrite for ten minutes about Memorial Day. What does it mean to you, and how do you feel about your take on the day? Do you feel any judgment towards others, or guilt, anger, conflict, or ambivalence? Write about it.
  2. Perform a word association exercise using the word “memorial.” Do you notice any patterns or trends in the words you wrote down? Write a paragraph or two about what you notice.
  3. Joseph Campbell said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” What do you think of this statement? Who have been the heros in your life?
  4. Draw a picture, write a poem, or a short prose piece to honor one of your heroes who has passed on.
  5. The word “memorial” is, of course, derived from “memory.” More precisely, it comes from the latin “memorialis,” which means “of or belonging to memory.” To you, what is “of or belonging to memory” about this day? What memories to you have about Memorial Days in your past?
  6. Often, when we remember something or someone who is no longer with us, we use objects as symbols. For soldiers, in general, it is often the American flag. Or a monument. For individuals we knew, it may be a personal object they owned and/or loved. What symbols do you use as memorials, and in what ways do they help you hold onto memories of that person or persons?

Does writing about this topic help to clarify your feelings and thoughts about it? Share your comments with us.


Image Credit: Brian (hoveringdog)
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