Memorial Day - it seems such an odd day to "celebrate." The parties and barbecues and games are a stark contrast to the somber remembrance of lives lost.
Over the years the true meaning of Memorial Day has been lost in the excitement of a 3 day weekend and the celebration of the beginning of summer.
I want my children to understand the real meaning of Memorial Day, especially since their older brother and uncle both serve in our nation’s Army.
I want them to know that Memorial Day is a day to pause and remember those who have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy, that time is precious and nothing should ever be taken for granted.Memorial Day is a day to remember those who have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Click To Tweet
I've chosen several books and activities that focus less on celebrating and more on remembering and honoring the reason that we have Memorial Day in our country.
History of Memorial Day
I bought a book last year from Character Concepts called Uncle Rick’s Holiday Book. This is such a great resource for teaching kids the real meaning of significant holidays throughout the year. The stories are short and easily understandable for all ages.
After reading Uncle Rick’s description of Memorial Day, we will watch a short video that gives a brief overview of the history of Memorial Day.
We’ll also watch the National Memorial Day concert on Sunday night.
Books to Read
We’ll be reading several books that I found at our local library.
The Wall by Eve Bunting
The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and her tribute to veterans by Walsh, Barbara Elizabeth
Let's Celebrate Memorial Day by DeRubertis, Barbara
We’ll also be reading several books about war.
I want my children to understand that peace and freedom can’t ever be taken for granted. The best way to teach them that (at least in our family) is to teach them a little of what it’s like to live without freedom in an area of war.
It’s impossible to understand the true sacrifice of military without having at least a small understanding of war, what it looks like, and how it affects people.
Why Do They Hate Me: Young lives caught in war and conflict by Simon Pulse
The Banana-Leaf Ball: How play can change the world by Katie Smith Milway
Why Do Wars Happen? by Don Slater
Cecil's Story by George Ella Lyon
Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti
Gleam and Glow by Eve Bunting
Read Aloud Options
These are longer books that will need to be read aloud over a few days. I’m not sure which one I will be reading yet but we'll choose one to read throughout the week.
Lord of the Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence
Fish by Laura S. Matthews
And another book, just for me:
Section 60: Arlington National Cemetery : where war comes home by Robert M. Poole
I’ll print out several of these coloring pages from Raising Our Kids for the kids to work on while I’m reading the books aloud. They tend to focus better when their hands are busy.
Crafts and Projects
My kids really love hands-on activities and crafts so I’ve chosen a couple to complete.
I found this free Memorial Day Pennant Banner that we’ll print out and complete then hang somewhere prominent for the day.
We’ll also be making this wreath for our door. It’s super simple to put together using a paper plate with the center cut out as the support.
Moment of Silence
In the year 2000, Congress established the National Moment of Remembrance which takes place each year on Memorial Day at 3:00 pm. Americans are asked to pause for one minute to recognize, remember and honor those who have given their lives for the freedoms that we enjoy.
Our family will be taking part in this.
The most important thing I'll be teaching my children is to simply remember them. They are not just numbers. They are sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers.
“People die only when we forget them.” ~ Isabel Allende Remember our fallen on Memorial Day. Click To Tweet
Memorial Day can certainly be a day to enjoy time together with family and even look forward to the long lazy days of summer ahead. But also remember that Memorial Day was established in this country as a day to remember those who have died in defense of the freedoms we all enjoy on this day, and every other.
Please remember their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of those that were left behind.
How does your family observe Memorial Day?