For many of us, Memorial Day is nothing more than an extra day off from work, a time for barbecues and a signal that summer is almost here. But this day provides a wonderful opportunity to talk with your children about the meaning behind Memorial Day.
Memorial Day has its roots in Decoration Day, when southerners would decorate the graves of the Civil War dead with flags, wreaths and flowers. General Logan declared the first Decoration Day, which was held May 30, 1968. On that day, General Garfield spoke at Arlington National Cemetery, and then 5,000 people decorated more than 20,000 union and confederate graves.
For age-appropriate resources for talking with your children, try:
- The Mini Page (Newspapers in Education). The May 19, 2012 edition explains Memorial Day on an elementary school level.
- Scholastic Teacher has a helpful article with ideas for honoring veterans.
- Patricia Tilton at ChildrensBooksHeal has a wonderful list of resources for children facing war, grief, deployed military parents and more. Her May 2012 posts have been dedicated to military families in honor of her grandson, an Army private killed in 2009.
Memorial Day also reminds us to support our men and women in uniform every day of the year. Children can practice gratitude and letter-writing by making cards and writing letters to troops. You can send them through organizations like A Million Thanks.
How do you talk to your children about Memorial Day?