Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day How to Honor Those Who Serve

Memorial Day is a national holiday celebrated every year throughout our country. It is a time to really honor those who have sacrificially served our country.

I remember when I was in Middle School having the honor to be the drummer for the veterans in our local parade. At the time I didn't know what a privilege it was to be asked to march with them - in fact I was pretty sure these old guys chose me because I was the only female drummer in our band at the time and they got a kick out of having me join their group. I LOVED it! These memories are some of my favorite from Memorial Day.

Marching with the veterans, tapping out a cadence and enjoying their company along the parade route was amazing - until we came to the local cemetery. I remember how their faces, posture and a sense of serious respect flooded over them as soon as we got within sight of the cemetery. As a kid I didn't know what was happening and was a little frightened at this sudden change. I just marched on drumming out the cadence until we halted.

Their service and the memories they carried so selflessly became once again so real as we stood among the gravestones and small American flags. These "old guys" stood rigidly at attention waiting to fire off their salutes to their fallen soldiers. As they presented their arms, firing off in joined succession I remember having tears stream down my face as the emotion of this ceremony hit me full on.

Fast forward to the present - and this is where I ask myself - how can I pass along to my kids the meaning of Memorial Day? They love going to our annual parade, especially since they know there will be candy thrown towards them by those marching in the parade. I still get choked up every time the Veterans march by. It feels just like yesterday when I was playing my drum, marching along with these heroes.

Here are some ideas to help you as a parent teach your kids how to honor our veterans and pass along the meaning of why we celebrate Memorial Day.

Read Stories of American History To Your Kids

Find stories documenting the experience our soldiers had while serving. Hearing about the danger, sacrifice and the reality of being a soldier through stories can help your child gain a better understanding of Memorial Day and why we as a country celebrate it. 

Find it HERE

Talk to Veterans

My guess is that there is someone in your family, church or circle of friends who is a veteran. Learning first hand from someone a child knows is a great way to teach kids how to respect and honor Veterans. 

My grandpa, a fighter pilot in the Korean war used to tell us grand kids that his hair became wavy on top from flying under and over bridges in the war. He had a great sense of humor and as kids we loved to hear this story (over and over and over....). Later as we got older and began to learn more about the war in Korea, and heard small conversations from aunts/uncles about grandpa's tour(s) in the war I realized how dangerous it was for him and how hard he fought. He dropped bombs, he dodged bullets and he survived to come home and raise his family. 

Listening to the oral history straight from the mouths of those who walked those steps can be a way our kids (and us) honor our vets.

Learn About the American Flag

The history of our American Flag is fascinating. Exposing kids to how all those stars got there, why there are red and white stripes and what each star and stripe symbolizes is a great way to start teaching why we should honor our veterans.

Kids love to craft so why not help them make their own American Flag that they can proudly display at your local parade or in the house. 

Here are some ideas to get you started:

via: Crafty Morning

Via: Housing a Forest

Show Your Thankfulness to A Vet

Monkey see monkey do - your kids are watching your every move, right? Why not show them how they can be thankful. It can be as simple as just telling a veteran (or police officer, firefighter or member of the coast guard) "thank you for your service". As a parent you will have to take the lead in teaching how to vocalize thankfulness but I guarantee this small act will stick with your kids forever. 

How about paying for their meal at a restaurant? Make sure you tell your kids what you are doing and why. Make cards and deliver them to your local Veteran's Home. The ideas of showing thankfulness are endless - it just takes some effort on your part to get it started.

However you celebrate Memorial Day don't forget to use this day as a way to teach your kids how to honor our current and past veterans. It is truly what it is all about! 

Thank you Veterans & Happy Memorial Day 

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