What is Memorial Day?
The National Coalition for the Homeless, the National Consumer Advisory Board, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council encourage communities to host public events on or near December 21 to remember their neighbors who have died homeless in the past year.
National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day takes place each year on the longest night of the year, the winter solstice (usually December 21st). The first Annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day was commemorated in 1990. While we remember those we have lost this year, we cannot let this be the start of another year of growing homelessness.
How to get involved
Every year, hundreds of communities hold Memorial Day events on or around December 21 to honor those who died while homeless. To host an event in your community please view our organizing manual.
Anyone can coordinate an event, including advocates, service providers, organizations, homeless and formerly homeless individuals/families, religious leaders, city representatives, students, and concerned citizens. We encourage those holding events this year to either do virtual memorials or to ensure appropriate social distancing at events. Download the official organizing manual to see how you can participate.
You and your community can memorialize those that have passed by holding a:
- Candlelight/Silent march
- Graveside service
- Special religious service
- Public policy advocacy event
When organizing your event, you may also consider:
- Determining how many homeless persons have died during the previous year in your community. There is no official tracking of homeless deaths in most communities, so start now to collect the names of those who die. Work with people who are homeless, service providers, and public officials to compile as complete a list as possible.
- Obtaining a proclamation from your local and/or state governmental body. You will find sample proclamations in our Organizing Manual.
- Letting us know in advance the logistics for your event. This allows us to alert the national media of events happening locally.
- Post on social media about your event with #HomelessMemorial or #HPMD hashtags. Once the event is over, let us know how it went, list of names read, how many attended and any media coverage. As sponsors with over thirty years of experience, please let us know if we can provide any additional information, help or advice.