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10 Ways Families Can Honor Memorial Day This Year

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By Lee Scott, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Children often think about Memorial Day as a time when the family gets together for a barbecue. Parents have an extra day off to play, and some homes have the flag flown in the front yard. It is also a special day to remember and honor those who have fought for the country since the 1800s.

This Memorial Day may be a little different since parades may be canceled and the large family barbecue may be smaller. There are still ways we can share the value of honoring Memorial Day and those who served. Here are ten ideas to mix up the day with your family.

  1. Share the story of why we have Memorial Day. It began in 1866 to honor soldiers from the Civil War and was at first called Decoration Day. People decorated graves with flowers, flags and wreaths. You can make decor at home in red, white and blue and display your decorations inside and outdoors. Have your children plan and make the decorations.
  2. Raise the flag. Fly the flag at half-staff until noon and then at full-staff until sunset. If you don’t have a flag, make one. Your children can count the stars and stripes as they create the family flag.
  3. Share stories. It is often easier to explain a concept like Memorial Day through storytelling. Share your family’s stories or read one of our favorites:
    1. The Wall by Eve Bunting
    2. Hero Dad and Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin
    3. The Impossible Patriotism Projectby Linda Skeers
  4. Take an afternoon break. Honor the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time with a moment of peace.
  5. It is the unofficial start of the summer. Plan something fun outdoors, such as a lunch outside or a backyard camp out.
  6. Seven billion hotdogs will be eaten between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Wow! Encourage your children to plan the Memorial Day meal. What is necessary to include – ice cream, hotdogs, chicken?
  7. Honor those who are still serving by bringing a little joy into their lives. Create cards, drawings or a care package to be sent overseas to a soldier, marine, airman, sailor or coastguardsman actively serving. Visit the site anysoldier.comto discover how and where to send your special items. You can extend this to your children’s teachers or people who are working in the hospitals.
  8. Sing songs throughout the day. Start the day with “America the Beautiful” and end the day with the national anthem.
  9. Get out the pots and pans, cardboard tubes and other materials that can become instruments. Have a family parade around the house. Video the parade and share with friends.
  10. Connect with a family far away by video chat. Share a favorite recipe, read a story together or sing a song such as the national anthem.