COLUMBIA - Memorial Day means different things to different people. Even military members have differing opinions on exactly what the holiday means to them.
"The first thing that comes into my mind are fallen heroes," Navy Capt. William Bond said. "We're here as honored guests and called heroes and stuff. But I can tell you, to a man, the real heroes are the ones who didn't make it... so that's the first thing that comes to my mind are fallen heroes."
"My approach and view toward Memorial Day is maybe a little different from a lot of military," Lt. Col. Jerry Young said. "Because three times we were assigned to Columbus Air Force Base, and that's where Memorial Day started. It was in the South, and they were putting graves on both the North and South, so it's especially meaningful to that community."
To some businesses, Memorial Day means taking advantage of consumer patriotism to scam unsuspecting donors.
"Unfortunately, we know that some people will use whatever they can to make money," said Stephen Gaither, public affairs officer for Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital. "So if the angle is patriotism, or support of veterans or support of disabled veterans, that has some emotional appeal to people, and that's a way to manipulate the public."
"I don't know if you can use this, but that really pisses me off that people would use the sacrifice of veterans to make money," Bond said.
Gaither said he gets calls periodically from people about the legitimacy of organizations requesting money for some military or veteran purpose. He said most legitimate organizations use mail for donations instead of the telephone.
The Missouri Better Business Bureau's website offers some tips for veterans, military and other consumers to avoid scams:
- Do your research on companies asking for money
- Don't wire transfer money to anyone you don't know
- Don't enter personal information on unfamiliar websites
- Put an "active duty" alert on your credit reports when deployed (for military)
Most people KOMU 8 talked to on the subject offered the same simple advice: make sure you know exactly who you're talking to before giving them money.