For many people, Memorial Day is just part of another three-day weekend. We take trips, spend time with the family, and enjoy outdoor barbecues. We can get so caught up in the festivities that we sometimes forget what Memorial Day is about. We forget that it is a day that has been set aside to remember the sacrifices that our military men and women made on our behalf. Spend some time during this holiday weekend explaining the meaning behind the holiday to your child. Here are some ways to help them understand and get them involved.
Learning About Memorial Day
The best way to get your child to understand Memorial Day is to provide her with information on the history of the holiday and the meaning behind it.
- Memorial Day, Day of Remembrance
Rod Powers, Guide to US Military, has an excellent article on the holiday, including an explanation of the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. He then goes on to explain how Memorial Day started out in 1868 as “Decoration Day.” May 30th was mean to be a day on which people would “decorate” the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers.
- Memorial Day – Honoring the “Forgotten” Dead
This article has some of the same information on the history of the holiday, but it adds information about U.S. National Parks and memorials in many parks that commemorate the various wars the U.S. has been involved in, from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam War. It also lists the number of the dead and wounded in every war from the Revolutionary War to the war in Afghanistan. The numbers for the last two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) are higher than those listed since the numbers reflect the totals only half way through 2008. The numbers really help us understand why we are remembering these military personnel.
- The Meaning of Memorial Day
This article is a brief overview of the holiday and its meaning. What this one adds is a mention of the National Moment of Remembrance Act. If you’ve never heard of it before, it simply asks Americans to stop what they’re doing at 3 p.m. local time and remember those military men and women who died for us in wars. Once you look at the numbers of all those who died first to help found America and then to serve her, you’ll realize that 60 seconds isn’t too much time to take out of your life to thank them for giving theirs.
- Memorial Day Quiz
You and your child can start with this quiz to see how much you know and then read the articles listed above to fill in the blanks of your knowledge or you can start learning about the holiday and then take the quiz to see how much you remember.
Ways to Observe Memorial Day
Once your child understands the purpose and meaning of Memorial Day, you can then help him find ways to observe the day in ways fitting the meaning of the day.
- Simple Ways to Observe Memorial Day and Honor America’s Fallen Servicemembers
Observing the holiday does not need to be costly or elaborate. Kim Wilson, Guide to Military Families, has put together a fairly simple list that includes tasks as simple as flying the flag.
- How to celebrate Memorial Day with meaning
Here is another short list of simple ways to observe Memorial Day – including something as simple as hugging a military family.
- 5 Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day With Your Kids
Some old and new ideas for observing the holiday are listed here.
Memorial Day Activities
Even though the reason behind Memorial Day is a somber one, children don’t have to spend the holiday without having any fun. It’s possible for them to focus on the holiday and still have some fun. Here are some ways for them to do that.
- Memorial Day Educational Activities for Kids
You and your child can find several links to fun Memorial Day themed games, puzzles, and activities, including word searches, writing, and drawing activities.
- Memorial Day Activities for Kids
This starts with a brief overview of Memorial Day’s history and meaning and then offers a list of activities that are both meaningful and fun. Reading the names of the fallen is a meaningful activities, but making patriotic desserts nad crafts can be fun.
- Free Online and Printable Memorial Day Puzzles for Kids
There are links to loads of puzzles for kids here: crossword puzzles, word searches, and jigsaw puzzles. There are also links to several quizzes on Memorial Day.
- Printable Coloring Pages
Even the youngest child can get involved in the observance of Memorial Day. Coloring Memorial Day themed pictures can help them focus on the day and its meaning.
- Journal Writing Topics about Memorial Day
Does your child enjoy writing? Or would you like to encourage her to write? Either way, this page has a long list of topics for Memorial Day writing. Here are just a few:
- Why is it important to celebrate Memorial Day?
- What does Memorial Day mean to you?
- Have you ever been to a public Memorial Day celebration? What was the atmosphere like?