Commemorating Memorial Day - Teaching Gratitude for Our Freedom

Teaching children the meaning of Memorial Day can be a delicate challenge, especially if a family has been touched with loss of a loved one who served our country.

While many Americans use this day to celebrate the beginning of summer with back-yard barbecues and summer shopping sprees, the true spirit of this day should be set in a much more sober context. By discussing with their children what Memorial Day means to them, parents can begin to teach gratitude for the high cost of freedom that our servicemen and women pay on a daily basis. Following are several ideas for commemorating Memorial Day with your child.

  • Fly the flag. Whether it's a cloth flag hung from a pole or a hand-drawn creation colored with red, white, and blue crayon that is then taped to a child's bedroom window, involve your child in this holiday by having this visual banner of freedom prominently displayed.
  • Visit a cemetery. Children may wish to search for flags or other patriotic symbols on memorial markers. Discuss with older children which conflict the deceased would have likely served in.
  • Together with your child, write a note of thanks to a current military member stationed overseas. Consider also sending a note to his or her family if you know them personally. The personal sacrifice these supporting family members make is often overlooked. Encourage them with a word of thanks. Check out our patriotic designs for inspiration.
  • Read "In Flanders Fields" out loud to your child and plant red poppies in your yard. Have older children or teens try their hand at writing their own stanza.
And finally, as you strive to teach your children about the sacrifice that comes with our freedoms, plan to enjoy the day with your loved ones. Those who have paid the ultimate price to ensure your freedoms would have it no other way. So invite your friends over for a barbecue. Attend that parade with your children. Hug your teenagers, whether they like it or not. Spend quality time with those you love in memory of those veterans who cannot.
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