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5 Simple Ways to Teach the Meaning of Memorial Day

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Every year my kids love Memorial Day because they know that their dad will be off work. Traditionally, we have off school as well and go to a picnic with friends. The true meaning of Memorial Day sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. We focus on the picnic, friends, and the fact that local pools and waterparks will now be opening their doors. Since my husband is a veteran, you would think that I would focus my attention on the meaning of these days more attentively and rightly so. To help stay focused with the reason for the season, I am listing five simple ways to teach the meaning of Memorial Day to children. Freedom isn’t free, and I am realizing that now more than ever it is integral to remind our children that there have been those who have fought and died for the freedoms they enjoy each and every day. The other day while at the post office, my son saw a POW-MIA flag and asked what it meant so this is where I will begin.

  1. Teach children to be attentive to the signs around them. When I realized that my children did not know what POW-MIA meant, I realized how important it was to teach them to read the signs around them. After explaining that it meant “Prisoner of War” and “Missing in Action,” they were able to think about the reality of what that meant, and they were thankful that their father was fortunate not to have those experiences. It also taught them to pray for those who currently are prisoners of war or are missing and to pray for their families.
  2. Teach children to show kindness to military widows. James said, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction . . .” (James 1:27). Maybe your child does not know a military widow personally, but they might in the future. Teach them to pray for them, even those they don’t know, so down the road if they do know of one in your community or family their hearts are prepared to minister to them as the Bible commands us to. Pure religion is visiting the widows in their affliction. If we teach them this now, then they might be the one urging you to bake them cookies or bring them flowers in their time of need. We are to train up our children in the way they should go. Human nature wants to steer clear of painful situations, but God wants us to be His hands and feet in the midst of it.
  3. Make a Red Poppy. Traditionally, a red poppy is worn the Friday before Memorial Day to honor the fallen and to support those who have served. Have your children make their own red poppy craft or buy one outside of your local grocery store on the Friday before Memorial Day from the American Legion Auxiliary to support veterans. An easy craft uses only a coffee filter, a red cupcake liner, a black button, a green pipe cleaner, and a red marker. Have your child color the coffee filter with the red marker and then glue the cupcake liner to the center. Attach the button to the center guiding the pipe cleaner through the button. Use masking tape on the back of the paper flower for reinforcement.
  4. Write a Thank You Note. Before you head out to a picnic or parade, give your children colorful notebook paper and a pencil. Encourage them to write a thank you note to someone they know who served in the military. If they know someone that is currently serving, write them a letter and be sure to pray for them. Encourage your child to write thoughtfully and even have them draw a patriotic picture including a flag, eagle, or outline of the United States.
  5. Teach Your Kids Patriotic Songs. Even if your kids know the words or tune to traditional patriotic songs, you can always make Memorial Day special by diving into the meaning of the songs. Go over “America the Beautiful” or the national anthem. You can even go over the Pledge of Allegiance. Sing together, watch videos on YouTube, or use the lyrics for copywork. You can even watch videos of how to properly treat the American flag and even how to traditionally fold it.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
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