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Memorial Day for Kids
Memorial Day is typically the marker for the beginning of summer. In a non-COVID year, it would mean the opening of pools and family get togethers. However, as adults we know the reason behind our 3-Day weekend is to honor those who perished while serving in the Armed Forces. How though do we address the reasons behind Memorial Day with our children? Here are a few ideas on how to mark the occasion so even the little ones can understand the meaning behind the holiday. With COVID, many of the activities that would usually be suggested like parades or VFW hall visits, are restricted this year to keep vulnerable populations safe. Intead, here are some ideas for a "safe at home" Memorial Day recognition.
1. Explain the meaning of Memorial Day
First celebrated in 1868 when a Union general declared May 30 as the day to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers, after World War I Memorial Day became a holiday to honor Americans who died fighting in any war. In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared the last Monday of May as a federal holiday to honor the men and women who died while serving in any branch of the armed forces in all wars. (Veterans Day in November is when we honor all who have served in the military.)
2. Teach Kids About Flying the Flag
Our flag is an important symbol as a country. Help your children to understand its significance. A symbol of mourning, the flag flys at half-past the morning of Memorial Day, returning to full mast at noon. Use this as an opportunity to discuss the flag, and its meaning as a nation. If your children are familiar with the Pledge of Allegiance, encourage them to recite it for you, or have your older children teach your younger children and have them all recite it together! If you have older children, teach them how to fold a flag properly at the end of the day.
3. Make patriotic crafts
Check out the Center for Child Well-Being Pinterest board for some ideas on kid-friendly crafts that you and the kids can make for Memorial Day. Decorate your front door with a red, white and blue wreath, or create fun hats, necklaces, to spruce up your backyard barbeque! Why not share your crafts with others? With social distancing measures still in place, nursing homes are full of Veterans who would appreciate a decoration for their rooms. Though Memorial Day is about soldiers who died in war, veterans who may have lost fellow soldiers in service will appreciate being in your thoughts.
4. Make a patriotic themed dessert
Add patriotism to your usual backyard barbecue by creating a special dish together. Assemble a batch of red, white, and blue mini-shortcake cups by layering strawberries, blue berries and whipped cream on top of bite sized pieces of angel food cake! Or how about some kid-friendly patriotic punch? Layer blueberry, fruit punch, and lemonade in a glass, and use a licorice rope for a straw! Check out our Pinterest board for more yummy ideas!
5. Visit a war memorial or veteran's cemetery in your town.
Have your kids help you pick out flowers or make a wreath that you as a family can leave there in honor of the soldiers who died fighting for our country. You can find a list of local Veteran cemetaries on the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs website
We've created a Memorial Day Activity Worksheet for your little ones to enjoy! From all of us at the Center for Child Well-Being, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!