Memorial Day is a somber reminder of the men and women who fought and died in the name of freedom. But, it is also a day to celebrate the lives of these brave people by engaging in a variety of activities. Here are several Memorial Day activities to help your family honor veterans.
1. Host a barbecue. Red, white, and blue is the theme of the day; so get out all of your party favorites and decorate your backyard with balloons, streamers; signs; and flags. You can even buy patriotic hats for your guests to wear! Perhaps you can also bake a red, white and blue cake. Don’t forget the candles!!
2. Have a picnic in the park. You can make this a special time for your and your family by not only enjoying the outdoors and having fun, but explaining to your kids the importance of Memorial Day. Bring Frisbees, a baseball or football, and just have a wonderful time as a family! Later on, you can attend your local Memorial Day parade.
3. Visit local, regional, or national memorials. No place would be more suited to spend time at a national monument. For example, in Washington, D.C. you can take your children to visit the Capitol; the White House; Lincoln Memorial; and, of course, the Viet Nam Memorial. These places can help you explain the importance of Memorial Day to your kids, as well as inspire questions, and develop a sense of history.
If Washington is a bit too far away, consider visiting local memorials and monuments. You may be surprised at the amount of in-depth information and interesting items can be found in your area. It’s not uncommon for locals to donate period or topic related items to a local group or society. You may even find that an ancestor contributed something that belonged to a veteran from your own family.
4. Discover and honor your family’s veterans. If you prefer to stay at home, you can honor your family’s veterans by making or adding to a Memorial Day scrapbook with info about their lives. Include stories, pictures and small items to give the reader a sense of knowing the person. Don’t know of a veteran in your family? Your local genealogical society can help you get started, especially if the veteran lived in the area. If this isn’t the case, you may want to contact older relatives to get names and information. Afterward, you can search for your veterans on any (and all) of the genealogy sites.
5. Participate in community events. Check your community news to see if any special events, Memorial Day parades, concerts, or fireworks are planned. This would be a wonderful way to spend the day. They might even have a fireworks display afterward. Plan on spending the entire day out with your family to commemorate the day.
6. Visit your local Veteran’s chapter and bring some homemade cookies or cakes. There, the veterans can teach your older kids and teens the history of Memorial Day and what it means to them. Getting the perspective from people who were actually involved can be quite memorable and raise the level of understanding to a whole new level.
7. Read and explore related literature. Be sure to read these two poems which explain the tradition and symbolism of poppies. A brief history is included for each poem. The first poem is “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae (pdf). The answering poem called, “We Shall Keep the Faith” was written by Moina Michael, a Georgia woman.
You can find out more about Memorial Day, traditions, history, symbols, protocol, and much more, here.