Honoring Memorial Day with Your Children

By Anna Hall, Hickory, NC, Publisher | Updated by Christen Reiner, Macaroni KID Lakewood-Littleton & Macaroni KID Denver Editor and Publisher May 26, 2023

Memorial Day, a US federal holiday observed every year on the last Monday of May, remembers those who died while serving our country's armed forces. It originated as Decoration Day after the Civil War as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. That tradition was eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in military service and it continues today.

Teaching the meaning of Memorial Day to your children can be tricky. It's easy to get lost in the rush of picnics, parades and fun during what many see as the unofficial start to summer. However, many people, all around the United States, will take the time to pay respect and remembrance to those who have died serving our country. These ideas can be a wonderful way to teach your children about the true meaning of Memorial Day.

Ways to Honor Those Who Gave Their Lives for Our Freedom

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Organize a neighborhood parade. Get the kids to decorate their bikes and trikes or use red, white and blue decorations to adorn wagons and strollers to parade around your neighborhood with others. End with a refreshing ice cream treat and enjoy the time with your neighbors.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Pause for a moment of silence at 3:00 pm in memory of our fallen heroes.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Fly the American flag. On Memorial Day, the flag should first be raised to the top of the staff, then slowly lowered to half-staff, until noon when it should be raised to the top of the staff for the rest of the day.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Visit a historical site or cemetery. Tour a historic battlefield or a soldiers' memorial for a personal look at the sacrifices made by our servicemen. Decorate the graves of soldiers with flags or flowers.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Attend a local event in honor of Memorial Day. Be it a parade, fireworks or another public gathering, join those in your community to mark this special day. Check out our Events Calendar for local Memorial Day happenings!

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Attend a virtual event. You may not be able to attend in person, but there are some really cool virtual tours and events you can check out.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Talk to a veteran. Take the kids to hear the story of a serviceman or servicewoman and encourage them to ask questions to better understand the sacrifices military members make. Bring cookies or flowers or a handmade note as a sign of thanks.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Make a patriotic craft or recipe. See how to make Poppies or Star Biscuit Bites! Talk about why you are making and eating them with your family.

Did you know that ...
  • The Grand Army of the Republic began decorating the graves of fallen service members with flowers in May 1868, which was then known as "Decoration Day".
  • In 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday, to be observed on the last Monday in May, moving it from the static date of May 30, in order to create a 3-day weekend.
  • On the Thursday before Memorial Day, small American flags are placed at each of the 400,000+ gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery and other cemeteries nation-wide.
  • To encourage more people to observe Memorial Day, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act in 2000, which asks people to stop what they are doing at 3:00pm local time and observe a minute of silence to honor those who lost their lives defending the country. 
  • On Memorial Day, the flag should first be raised to the top of the staff, then slowly lowered to half-staff, until noon when it should be raised to the top of the staff for the rest of the day.
  • Red poppies are considered the Memorial Day flower. There is a poem called "In Flanders Fields" that refers to the fields of poppies growing among soldiers' graves during the First World War.
"We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them." ~Francis A. Walker

For further reading, visit:
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Memorial Day on Wikipedia
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Arlington National Cemetery on Wikipedia

Honoring Memorial Day can be as simple as taking some time out of the day to remember the true meaning of this important day and showing respect to those who have given their lives in service to the country, as well as by teaching your children about our county's rich history, the importance of freedom, and the sacrifices that have been made to make the USA what it is today.