Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer for most families, but it’s so much more than just a long holiday weekend. So, how do we teach our children- especially at a young age- about the sacrifice, honor and bravery of the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom?
-Fly the American Flag: Hang the American flag in front of your home or spend a dollar to buy one on a stick at the grocery store or dollar store and plant it in your yard. Remind your kids that the stars and stripes have meaning, and talk about its importance in yours or other’s lives.
-Honor a Moment of Silence: At 3:00pm, our nation honors a National Moment of Silence. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the lake or barbecuing in your backyard or stuck in traffic somewhere. An act of gratitude with little explanation will go a long way.
-Attend a Memorial Day Parade: While your town may not be closing down city streets, you might be surprised at events in your area if you try an Internet search.
-Visit a Veteran’s Cemetery or Grave: While many towns have cemeteries devoted solely to veterans, others will usually have a small area or individual graves of fallen military.
-Read a Patriotic Story: For younger children, We the Kids or America the Beautiful. For older children, the Red Badge of Courage is one to make them think. Again, an Internet search can help you find a title right for your family.
-Watch a Patriotic Movie: Trying to make this list could start your own family showdown. But something timeless like Forest Gump or Saving Private Ryan are a couple that come to mind.
-Visit a Local Monument: This is another one of those things that takes some research and planning. But any vacation or road trip throughout the year is a great excuse to take an extra few moments to stop and pay respects.
-Sing a Patriotic Song: As silly as this sounds, you might be surprised over the lyrics you remember vs. what your children know or what you look up on YouTube. Just a challenge to sing America the Beautiful or the Star Spangled Banner could be a memorable family activity in a car-ride home.
-Create a Care Package for a Military Member Currently Serving (anysoldier.com): This is not only a great weekend, summer and holiday project, this is a great project for anytime of year.
-Say “Thank You” All-Year-Round to Veterans & Military Personnel: Standing in an elevator or sitting in a restaurant- it doesn’t take much to say “thank you for your service” to a veteran or current military service man or woman. But the gesture is deeply appreciated by the recipient.
Many of us take our freedom for granted. But when you really think about it, because others sacrificed, our children have opportunities millions around the world can’t begin to imagine. Our children can make their mark. They can contribute and give. They can shine their light on negativity and darkness. Because others gave their lives, our children have the freedom to do just about anything they set their minds to achieving.
Thank you to everyone who sacrificed. Thank you for our freedom.