Memorial Day is a day to remember our veterans who gave everything in defense of our nation. It is an important day, and an excellent opportunity for children to learn about the sacrifices that our men and women in the armed forces make year after year for our country and the world. Although Memorial Day is now often recognized as a day of remembrance for all the nation's deceased, a special effort should be made to recognize and celebrate those who died in service. Here are three meaningful projects that you can do with your children to help them learn about the significance and history of Memorial Day and share with others.
Plant patriotic poppies
The Veterans of Foreign Wars began distributing poppies in remembrance of their fallen compatriots ninety years ago. The red poppy, symbolized in the poem, "In Flander's Field", has been a symbol of memorial Day for nearly 100 years, and long ago became the official memorial flower of the VFW. Disabled veterans began making artificial Buddy Poppies in the 1920's. The sale of these poppies helps to fund disabled veterans' services and provide assistance for widows and orphans whom fallen veterans left behind.
Kids can learn about Memorial Day and help share the special meaning of the day by planting poppies of their own. Poppies are easy to grow from seeds and bloom in vibrant color during the summer. Children who want to give back can start red poppies in small individual planters to give to veterans in nursing homes or hospitals. Tie each little planter in a bright red ribbon to match the poppies and add a tag that says, "Thank you for your service," to make the gifts extra special.
Make poppy cookies
Whether you make red frosted poppy-shaped sugar cookies or a delectable lemon poppy seed variety, cookies are a fun project that even little kids can help make. Once children have learned the significance of Memorial Day and the beautiful poppies that mark the day, they can help you make a few dozen delicious cookies to share. Whether you deliver cookies to the VA hospital or share them at a family picnic, your kids will certainly enjoy telling others the significance behind their homemade poppy cookies and why Memorial Day is such a special holiday.
Take Memorial Day field trips
Memorial Day was first proclaimed in 1868 at the laying of flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. It was not officially designated as a national holiday until 1971, but the holiday now recognizes deceased veterans of all wars. In this, the 150th anniversary of so many devastating Civil War battles, there is no better time to educate children of the toll of war on our country and to honor those who gave their lives in battles here and abroad.
If you live near a Civil War battlefield or a National Cemetery, or even a war memorial or museum, consider taking your children on a field trip around Memorial Day. Standing where a battle took place, seeing the graves of those whose lives were lost, or even reading the names from a monument or plaque at a memorial can help kids remember that there is a reason for Memorial Day beyond cookouts and fun at the lake. Helping them to remember those who served will make the annual summertime celebration of the life we enjoy that much more meaningful, and that's what the day is all about.
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