Remembering Those Who Went Before

Remembering Those Who Went Before


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Memorial day is a great time to teach your children about their past.

Memorial day is often celebrated with picnics, barbecues, and a day off of work. It’s easy to simply use the day as yet another day off in the year and relax. However, the real meaning behind Memorial day means that we should treat it with a bit more respect and really appreciate those who have gone before. Memorial day is the perfect time to help teach your children about their past, and for you to learn a bit about your own history as well. 

Memorial Day was originally meant as a day of remembrance for those who had fallen in the Civil War - it was a day to remember those that fought and gave up their lives. In the 1970s, Memorial Day became an official federal holiday by President Nixon. It was set as a holiday meant to remember those who died while serving in the military (whereas Veteran’s Day is meant to celebrate all who serve in the military).

One of the simplest things you can do is to explain to your children about the holiday itself. Younger children likely don’t have a good grasp on what war is, and what the military is really for. Explaining both the purpose of the military, and that there is a great sacrifice by those who serve in the military to help protect our nation and freedoms is a great starting point.

Obviously, if you have any family members who served in the military that passed away, this is a perfect time to talk about what they went through and how they died. If you don’t have anyone in your family directly that you’re aware of, you can use this as an opportunity to teach your child about some of the important battles that took place in past wars, and how those who gave up their lives have helped to secure our freedom today.

For younger children, teach them about how to properly fly a flag, and how to properly care for the flag. Explain that the flag is an important symbol of freedom and that we should take respect when touching or interacting with the flag (i.e. it should not touch the ground). Explain that we fly the flag at half-mast to honor those who have passed away. Repeat the pledge of allegiance with them.

If you do have friends or family that serve in the military, this is an excellent time to create letters and care packages for them. Serving in the military is difficult for not only the person serving, but also any family that they may have as well. Use this time (as well as Veteran’s day) to send letters of appreciation to them for the work that they are doing.

If you live in an area that has a museum or monument in remembrance of veteran’s, this is a great opportunity to visit such a location. If appropriate, you can bring flowers or other decorations to leave at the location. Teach your children that it’s important to pay respect to those who have given up their life for us today.

Finally, pay respect to all family members who have gone before you. Visit the cemetery and their graves. Help children to understand that at some point, we will all pass away. While this is a sad time, it is also important to teach your children to make the very most of today because we simply never know what tomorrow will bring. Pay respect to your family that has gone before and share stories of the important things that they did to make life better for future generations.

Remember your past, strive for a better future, and make today the best you can. Teach your child how to learn, live and strive for the best life possible.


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