Friday, May 25, 2012

Mom's Guide to... Memorial Day!

File:If Ye Break Faith - Victory bonds poster.jpg

Monday is Memorial Day! Most people think of it as the unofficial kick-off to the summer season. We enjoy sunshine, picnics, a day off from work or school.

But we really should remember to celebrate the real meaning of the holiday as well. Memorial Day is a remembrance day, a day to honor our fallen soldiers. We are often reminded of this with our local parades, where veterans march with pride. I am often saddened that our young people don't seem to understand or value this sacrifice that so many Americans have made for us. So, in honor of the occassion, I've decided to put together a quick guide to Memorial Day with simple activities and information to help you "homeschool" your family and celebrate the holiday in the traditional way!

Mom's Guide To MEMORIAL DAY!

Memorial Day was conceived in the late 19th century and was originally called Decoration Day, where the graves of fallen veterans were "decorated." A great summary of the history can be found on this site. It should be noted that Memorial Day honors the dead, while Veterans Day honors living veterans. In either case, it is good to honor our American holidays buy understanding their meaning.

A simple way to teach children about Memorial Day is to go to the cemetery and decorate the graves of veterans. The graves of any veteran in your family can be "decorated" with a flag or flowers -- be sure to check cemetery restrictions regarding what you can and cannot do. I know the Catholic cemeteries where my family members are buried have several restrictions, but they do allow special flag markers on the graves of veterans; in fact, there a local program to place flags on graves in our region.

A popular Memorial Day symbol is the red poppy, which was originally inspired by the 1915 poem "In Flanders Field" by John McCrae, a Canadian soldier in World War I. He wrote the poem when he noted how quickly poppies grew up around the graves of soldiers in in the Flanders region of Belgium during the war:

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead.
Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved and now we lie,
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw,
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us, who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow,
In Flanders Fields.

Buddy Poppy

Veterans have been selling little paper poppies since 1922 outside grocery stores, etc. I can't pass a veteran selling poppies without buying one. My grandmother was an Army veteran, and she always bought the little red paper poppies, often giving them to me. It is one of my fondest memories of her, so I cannot pass a poppy seller without buying one, or two. I keep them in my car, and give them to Big Girl, and often tell my oldest how it is a family tradition to purchase a poppy.

Kids can make their own poppies for Memorial Day decorations, to pass out to veterans, to carry in parades, etc. This page has a fun way to make them out of coffee filters.

A lovely, meaningful treat for Memorial Day is Poppy Cookies, with this recipe and decorating instructions from Kraft Canada.

I pinned this on Pinterest -- isn't it cute?

Flags are also the patriotic way to decorate! Dollar stores often have inexpensive flags, which can be gathered up for a centerpiece, stuck in flower pots and window boxes, attached to wreaths or tied on bikes for a neighborhood parade. Red, white and blue bunting is also a beautiful way to decorate porches, railings and decks for the holiday celebration. It can be used year after year for Memorial Day, Flag Day and 4th of July celebrations.

Kids can also make their own flags. This "Old Glory" pennant craft is a cute vintage version, recycles paper bags, is inexpensive and is easy enough for kids of all ages. probably has the best round-up of Memorial Day crafts I've even seen. There are enough adorable patriotic crafts to get you through the summer on this site! The site also also has a "patriotic" page with many more ideas, including ideas from readers.

Looking for a game to play at your Memorial Day picnic? Try this "Patriotic Bingo" printable!

I hope you enjoyed this quick Mom's Guide to Memorial Day. As the summer rolls on, I plan on more "patriotic" posts to get us through the upcoming American holidays. Enjoy your Memorial Day with your loved ones and be sure to honor and "remember" our fallen veterans.

1 comment:

  1. I remember buying these paper poppies as a child outside the San Deigo zoo every time we went. It's a clear memory of my childhood. I can even remember the smell of those paper poppies. I can only find the fabric or silk poppies now, I'd give anything to find an actual paper one like the ones I used to get as a child.