Monday is Memorial Day. It is a day when we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Those sons, daughters, husbands, wives, friends etc. who did not come home. It is a somber occasion but one that can be filled with a lot of importance, respect and gratitude.
So as parents, what should we be doing? I believe it is our responsibility to always teach respect for our country and our soldiers to the next generation and Memorial Day is a great time to start those conversations and lessons.
Most young children have not experienced war (luckily). They do not know about the World Wars, Vietnam, and Korea, our protection in Bosnia, the Dominican Republic, and so many other countries. They were not around to witness the horror of 9/11 or the wars to follow that. Some may have scraped the surface of the topic in history classes but I can tell you that I learned a lot more about other things in history then I ever did about wars, and our military. Most of our children are still living in innocence and while as parents we want to maintain that for as long as possible we also want to teach them gratitude. Gratitude for all those who have sacrificed their comforts, family, health and lives to protect us and our free country.
There are numerous ways to do this depending on the age group and again it does not have to be overwhelming. Some ways to approach this topic are:
- Go to a local veteran cemetery, talk about the people buried there and the flags around the grounds in honor of them. Leave some flowers and a nice note by a monument there.
- Pause at 3pm. Where ever you are, stop at 3pm to take a moment of silence for a fallen solider. Have a brief conversation before the moment so your children know the meaning behind it.
- Wear a red poppy. The red poppy became a symbol of remembrance for fallen soldiers in 1918.
- Have your child help you hang your flag at your home ( please note: it should be flown at half-staff from dawn to noon)
- Attend a local parade or watch the national parade on TV
- While Memorial Day is for fallen soldiers it would still be nice to have your child write a letter or draw a picture for current soldiers or Veterans (especially those in veteran hospitals and care facilities). Maybe even bring a snack to an elderly Veteran’s home.
Whichever way you chose to share information about this day with your child, the most important thing is that they realize this is not an extra day off from school, it is not the beginning of the summer season, or a time for the best sales. It is a day to memorialize those who sacrificed for us and our country and their sacrifice shall never be forgotten.