The three-day weekend is here, and for many people, that means the start of summer — complete with barbecues and visits to the beach. With all the fun and excitement that Memorial Day Weekend brings, it is important to look past the sales and celebrations and keep in mind the meaning of this American holiday. If you are looking for a way to commemorate the day with the kids, here are some ideas you may want to try:
Share the facts: Many youngsters may not be aware of the significance of Memorial Day. Explain the facts–that it is a federal holiday, so banks, government offices and schools are closed; that it is celebrated on the last Monday in May; that it was initially established to honor those who passed during the Civil War; and so on. You could even pick a few wars and give the kids a mini history lesson (if it’s a rainy day, think about incorporating an age-appropriate film that deals with a major battle in American history). Check out this CNN article for more information that could be relevant to the conversation.
Attend a parade: Get out the red, white and blue and take the kids to the town parade for some community fun. There will be plenty of veterans there, so this could be a great time to encourage the kids to show their appreciation. Don’t forget to pick up a few small American flags to wave!
Visit a local monument or cemetery: Find a war memorial in the area and take the youngsters to see it. Read up beforehand and come up with a suitable way to explain the significance of the conflict. You can even talk to the kids about some of the more famous monuments found in Washington DC and other parts of our country by pulling up images online (visit a site like this one for more information). If you are having difficulty finding a monument or memorial, you have another option. Some local organizations place flags on the gravestones of veterans each year around this time. Ask around and see if this is the case in your neighborhood. If so, this could be a meaningful trip for the kids. It could also be the start of an important tradition for your family.
Reach out to an active military member: Sit down with your son or daughter and go through an organization such as AnySoldier.com to send a care package to a member of our armed forces. Another great organization is Adopt a US Soldier. Guide your child through crafting a letter that shows support and warmth.
Enjoy the day: After you have spent some time talking about Memorial Day and what it means, continue the quality time with a meal. Incorporate a summertime dessert (here are some patriotic recipes to try!) and some time outdoors, with the kids on the swing set or the family taking a bike ride.