By: Rebecca Hastings
While we all enjoy a day off and throw some burgers on the grill, teaching kids about Memorial Day is an important way to honor our country and all who served. But it can feel hard to know what to say, how to make it memorable and ways to make a difference. These simple tips will help your kids understand the real meaning behind Memorial Day.
First, What Is Memorial Day?
The last Monday of May is set aside for one simple act: remembering those who have died during active military service. Technically, the day is set aside to honor only those who have died. However, it is often observed as a celebration of the United States with American flags, parades and cookouts.
But What About Veterans Day?
Many people get confused between Memorial Day and Veterans Day because they both celebrate people who have served our country. While Memorial Day is specific to those who died while serving, Veterans Day is a chance to honor all those who have served in the U.S. military. These people can still be living, and it is always Nov. 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I.
What Can We Do as a Family?
Your family can honor those who lost their lives during active military service. Even the freedom to have a cookout and be with family in freedom is a way to honor their sacrifice.
Read a Book: Many children’s books show the value of the men and women who serve our country as well as books that highlight patriotism. To go a little deeper about Memorial Day, “The Wall” by Eve Bunting tells the story of a child visiting the Vietnam War Memorial and is a great choice for preschool-age children and older.
Plant a Flag: Memorial Day is the perfect time to leave flags on the graves of local military men and women. Small flags can be purchased online or locally. Be sure to check with the cemetery for guidelines.
Sing Along: Learn a song that celebrates America. Great options for kids include “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” You can find age-appropriate sing-alongs online to enjoy.
Say Thank You: For those who have lost someone in military service, Memorial Day can be hard. Teach kids to recognize that these people have sacrificed something for the freedom we all have. A simple thank you, a card or a kind gesture goes a long way.
Make a Flag: You can explore endless ways to teach kids about the American flag. Be creative! Try making a flag-themed dessert or coloring a big flag in your driveway with sidewalk chalk. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you have plenty of red, white and blue.
Watch a Memorial Day Parade: Full of fun, music and festivity, a Memorial Day parade is a great way to celebrate while still remembering the meaning of the holiday. Teach kids the importance of standing when the flag or military service members walk by. These simple acts go a long way in showing honor.
Adopt a Military Family: The reality of Memorial Day is always on the minds of those with someone in the military. Consider choosing a military family to show extra kindness to by sending them cards, making a meal or inviting them to join you for holidays. These little acts of kindness go a long way.