Celebrating a graduation, any graduation, virtually isn’t exactly the same as celebrating in person. Many graduates last spring got creative with their festivities, but we know military families are struggling to celebrate their service member’s hard work and dedication to military service.
Though we know most military families and friends will not be traveling to Missouri for their service member’s graduation, we would like to offer some ideas on how you might consider celebrating him or her from afar. Here are our top five ideas and if you have found a way to celebrate your Soldier from a distance, please share with us in the comments below!
1. Host a Facebook live watch party. Training companies on Fort Leonard Wood are doing an excellent job offering live video of graduation ceremonies so that families can see their service members graduate. Make this celebration a big event for your family - decorate, make some yummy food, chill your favorite drinks, and consider asking the tech-iest family member to connect a computer or phone to a large TV so you can better view the ceremony.
2. If your service member has family and friends located around the U.S. or the world, consider creating a video collage for your graduate. A few weeks before graduation, send a request to family and friends for them to record an encouraging message for the graduate and email or text them to you. Use a free video editing software to compile all of the messages and share it with your graduate.
3. If you have some friends and family who aren’t very technology-savvy, an old fashioned card shower might also be a great way to celebrate the graduate. You might also be able to provide your service member’s address at their first duty station to friends and family and ask them to send their graduation cards or notes to that address. They might also prefer to send an encouraging note as your service member begins his or her career. Friends and family might also have fun with a “text-shower.” On the day of graduation, you can encourage friends or family to send congratulatory texts to your service member.
4. One of our favorite ideas and most likely one of the best we’ve seen and heard is sending your graduate a congratulations message from his or her favorite celebrity. What?! Yes, you heard us right! The new service, Cameo, allows you to pay a small fee (some celebrities donate the fee you pay to a non profit organization), select the celebrity, and then the celebrity will record a message for the person of your choosing. This option might just be the silver lining of a pandemic-enforced virtual celebration.
5. If your service member is really bummed about not being able to have family and friends at their graduation, consider scheduling an in-person celebration in the future. Maybe your service member could take leave after he or she gets settled into their first duty station and by that time, it will be safe to travel again. This might also make it easier for friends and family to attend the celebration (it could possibly eliminate travel for some) and allow your service member to catch up with friends and family.
If your service member, family, and friends have a good sense of humor, consider making a full-size flat stanley or a custom big head cutout of your service member that could “attend” any of the virtual celebration options we listed above. Take some fun pictures and send them to your service member as a way to show him or her how much they’re loved and missed.