Happy Memorial Day! I hope you all are enjoying the long weekend and that you are doing something fun and/or relaxing with family and friends. Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer. The day when families and friends get together for a picnic or a barbecue, enjoying the long weekend with one another.
We all love a long holiday weekend, but it is important to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day and who we should be thanking.
For a brief history lesson, here’s what Memorial Day is really about:
Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer. – History.com
Today we need to take at least a few moments to honor the fallen men and women who have sacrificed their lives to serve and protect our great nation. We can never thank them enough for their service and ultimate sacrifice for our country.
This is why I hope that today we all take the time to talk to our children about how lucky we are to live in an amazing country where they can grow up and be whatever they want to be. If you’re unsure how to educate your children on the significance of Memorial Day. If you’re looking for fun ways to celebrate this holiday with your kids, here are 6 ways for you and your family to recognize and help veterans, military families, and those who’ve lost loved ones this Memorial Day.
Fly the Flag
Flying the American flag is a great way to display American pride, but it’s even more special on Memorial Day. According to flag etiquette, the flag should be raised at half-staff from sunrise until noon and then on full staff for the rest of the day.1
Before noon, with the flag at half-staff, we remember those who died in wars. After noon we honor the living veterans and those who continue to fight for our country. If you have an American flag, have your kids help you put it up and watch it fly.
Observe the Minute of Silence
In 2000 President Bill Clinton issued a memorandum on the White House Program for the National Moment of Remembrance that encouraged Americans “to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.” So pause at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day and pay respect to those who fought for us.
A fun and easy way to say thanks with your kids is to write a thank-you letter to a veteran or current armed forces member. Whether it’s your family member or someone you’ve never met, they will appreciate your kind words. A Million Thanks makes it super easy to send a letter to men and women in the military.
This is a great hands-on activity for kids of all ages. Another way to say thank you is to send a thank-you bouquet through the National Memorial Day Foundation, which will be placed at the New York City war memorials.
Support the Military Families
Today I can’t help but also think of the families, spouses, and parents left behind. My heart goes out to each of them. If you know of a family with a loved one serving or who has served. Give them a call or stop by to show them your gratitude.
You could also consider donating to a charity organization supporting families of soldiers killed in combat. For instance, the National Military Family Association helps military families. Another great organization is the Wounded Warrior Project. They support veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001, and their families.
Visit a Veteran’s Cemetery
One of the most traditional ways to recognize Memorial Day is to visit one of the VA’s National Cemeteries for the Memorial Day Ceremony. (You can find a list here.) Others also honor the dead by placing flags and flowers on veterans’ graves.
You can also participate in the “Adopt-A-Grave” program. Volunteers take care of the graves of fallen soldiers, keeping them debris-free and decorating them with flowers. Check if the cemeteries in your town support the program and become a member!
Attend a Memorial Service
Most cities have a Memorial Day parade and hold concerts and ceremonies. Attending the parade is a great way to introduce children to the traditions of Memorial Day. Your support will make the marching veterans even happier.
Today I hope that you get to do something fun with your family. And you also take the time to teach them the significance of Memorial Day. Show them ways to express their gratitude.
Happy Memorial Day!! What are the ways that you are celebrating this holiday? Anything you would add to the list?