For many Americans, Memorial Day weekend marks the start of backyard BBQs, summer vacations and pool time. But it is so much more than that! In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to honor and remember the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces.
Your family may be remembering and honoring your own family members who previously served or thinking of loved ones who are currently serving our country. As you gather with family and friends for your Memorial Day activities, take time to appreciate the gift of being able to spend time together. Talk to your children about the gift of freedom and the meaning of service.
Here are some patriotic activities for your family to consider this Memorial Day:
- Display the American Flag Displaying the American Flag is a great way to honor our country and those who have served. If you own an American flag and are able to display it, you can teach your older children how to properly display and fold the flag.
- Attend a Memorial Day Service or Pay Tribute Attend a local Memorial Day service to honor those lives lost in service. Services typically include patriotic songs, reflections and a reading of some names of the men and women who have died in service. If your community does not have a Memorial Day service, consider going to the local veteran cemetery or war memorial. Often, cemeteries allow community members to show honor and respect by bringing flowers or small American flags to be placed on the graves. You can find a list of state veteran cemeteries here.
- Observe the National Moment of Remembrance In 2000, Congress established The National Moment of Remembrance. It asks Americans, wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, to pause for a full minute in an act of national unity to pay our respects to the men and women who died in service of our country.
- Make Red Poppy Art As a family, make the remembrance symbol of Memorial Day – the red poppy. While making the craft, talk about the history of the red poppy and how it came to be a prominent symbol.
- Play Patriotic Games With a little prep ahead of time, your kids will have a blast playing Red, White and Blue Tag or Red, White and Blue Balloon Toss. Not only will your kids get some good exercise, they are sure to get in some good laughs with their siblings and friends.
This Memorial Day, let us help our kids remember the true meaning of Memorial Day and what it means for our country’s history. Let us especially remember those left behind by fallen service members: their widows, children and those who served with them. Their lives were forever changed by the sacrifices made by their loved ones.