Teaching Children About Memorial Day

Granddaughter and Grandfather at a WWII Memorial

For many kids today, the real meaning behind Memorial Day is lost. They know that they get a three day weekend, they may know about all the huge sales going on during this time, and they also know that school is about over when this holiday rolls around. However, Memorial Day is a lot more than just a day off from school and kids need to be taught about this day and the meaning behind it. Finding ways to teach kids about the significant of Memorial Day and how important it is to honor those who have protected the freedom of this country is important. Here is a look at some great suggestions that will help you teach your kids about this important holiday.

Teach Your Child the History of Memorial Day

The first thing you should do is teach your child about the history of Memorial Day. Many kids do not know the history behind the day, and you may even be rusty on the history that led to this day becoming a national holiday.

The history of Memorial Day goes all the way back to 1866, right after the nation was recovering from the Civil war. Both the North and the South saw soldiers coming home with serious injuries and many towns had lost friends and loved ones to this store. In Waterloo, New York, a drugstore owner named Henry Welles came up with the idea that on one day all the shops would close down to honor those who had been killed during the war. It was May 5th that everyone in the town went to the graves of those in the local cemetery and put out flowers and crosses on their graves. A similar ceremony was planned by Retired Major General Jonathan A. Logan, which was for soldiers that had survived the Civil War. He took veterans through town to decorate the graves of comrades with flags. It was a memorial, not a celebration, and it was called Decoration Day.

Decoration Day was proclaimed by Logan to be a day for decorating the graves of those who had died defending the country. These two ceremonies were joined together to be one in 1868. ON these days songs were sung, veterans would wear their uniforms and medals, veterans would go to cemeteries to remember the fallen, and town people would decorate graves with flags, flowers, and photos.

It was not until 1882 that the name Memorial Day was actually used and the day was made to be a remembrance to all soldiers who had died fighting for this country. President Nixon would then declare it a federal holiday in 1971, to be on the very last Monday in the month of May. Still today though, Waterloo, New York is considered to be the birthplace of this holiday.

Remind Kids that This is a Time to Remember

After you teach your children the history behind Memorial Day, you also need to remind kids that this is a time to remember. It is a time to remember all those Americans who have fought in the past to keep this country safe and free. It is a day to honor and respect the armed forces, those who have already died, and those who continue to serve our country still today. Of course, remember to teach children that this day isn't just limited to honoring and remembering those in the armed forces. It is a wonderful time for personal remembrance as well, remembering family members and friends that have been lost. It is a day to reflect upon the losses of those who have made our lives better.

Encourage a Moment of Remembrance

As you are teaching your kids about Memorial Day, it's a good idea to encourage a moment of remembrance on this holiday. Consider finding ways that you can celebrate this holiday in your community or join the rest of America at 3pm on this day to have a moment of remembrance. Kids can pick out a way for them to spend this moment. Ideas include having a moment of silence, taking a moment to say a prayer, or perhaps ringing a bell in remembrance of those who have done so much for this country.

Don't allow your children to go on thinking that Memorial Day is just another day off school or just another holiday. This is an important day that kids need to know about. Teach your kids the history and importance of Memorial Day and remember past American heroes together.

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