HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
May 28, 2007, Herald Journal

Teaching children about Memorial Day


Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day about remembering those men and women who have died in the service of our nation.

The day has also come to pay tribute to all those military men and women who have served and are serving our nation.

On Memorial Day we also remember our own loved ones who have died.

It is a special day, and we want our young ones to know the importance of it. The day should be more than just about the beginning of summer vacation. What can we do to teach our children about this commemorative day?

First of all, we need to talk to them about it. As mentioned, the United States has been involved in more than 50 wars or conflicts that have involved the sacrifice of the lives of American servicemen and women.

Certainly, what and how much we tell our children depend on their age.

If possible, attending a Memorial Day program or service at a cemetery or in a community is a way to allow our children to help pay tribute.

Graves are decorated; flags are flown at half mass; veterans and auxiliary organizations march; speeches are made; Taps and other patriotic music is played; remembrances are offered; General Logan’s orders are read, all in the name of remembrance and commemoration.

Ever since I have been a small child, our family has been attending a local program. I continue to do this with my own family. I get a shiver every time I hear Taps played and the names read of all the local service men and women who have died in the name of freedom.

My children do participate in the program. My son, who is a Cub Scout, marches with his fellow Scouts behind the veterans and auxiliary members. My other two children wave their miniature flags as well.

During the service, my youngest child is scared of the loud gun salutes by the veterans, but we just stand back when this event occurs. She participates in the program at the level that is appropriate for her.

Buying poppies from auxiliary members is another way to show support of veterans, service personnel and Memorial Day.

Www.education-world.com recommends reading the book “The Wall” by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ronald Himler. The website noted that it is an excellent book to share with students of all ages, and its message can be interpreted at many different levels.

The book is about a father and son who visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to search for the boy’s grandfather’s name.

Children can write letters to and make cards for veterans thanking them for their service. Writing letters to servicemen and women on active duty in the Middle East and around the globe is also a wonderful and very worthwhile activity.

Whether it’s attending a Memorial Day service with your children on Memorial Day itself or whether it’s reading a book, listening to some patriotic songs or writing letters to service personnel, let us not allow the special observance to be unrealized or forgotten by our children.