Honor, duty, respect, gratitude
These are the words I think of when Memorial Day comes around. It’s such a busy time of year with school coming to a close, the warm weather drawing us outdoors for fun and yard work that we can easily take the federal holiday for granted. Many of us probably have a day planned with family and friends, relaxing and having fun, but I’d like to encourage you to do more than that on this hallowed day.
As a parent I feel that teaching my children about Memorial Day is just as important as teaching them how to cross the street. They need to know that many years ago-and yet still today-men and women join the military and fight for our country and sometimes they lose their life while doing so. Obviously we have to give them information they can handle, and you know each of your children best, so take care to give them small bits of information until they are old enough that you can have a longer conversation on what duty and love of country means. Here are a few other ways to honor the fallen on Memorial Day.
- Fly the American Flag: If you don’t have one-make one! Talk to your children about what each of the stars represents, and what the stripes mean. If you don’t know, The Optimist club will bring a flag and place it in front of your home ( 5 holidays throughout the year) for the day for a small fee that in turn goes back to the youth of the Quad Cities.
- Send a care package to a solider: It doesn’t take much but it means much more than we know. Let your kids get involved in picking out the items and have them write a letter of thanks. Check the list of organizations here.
- Visit a national cemetery: The Rock Island National Cemetery is open on Memorial Day and what a great way to show honor and give our children the opportunity as well. On the way talk to your children about what to expect and see if you haven’t been before. Prepare them how to act respectfully and be ready to answer their questions.
- Read a patriotic story and sing songs: For the little’s a story or a song might be better on their level. Do they know our national anthem? There isn’t a better day to learn it-all kids should know the words!
- Have a moment of silence: 3pm is the designated hour of silence, so if you can, take a moment and then give each family member a time to say what they are thankful they have freedom for.
I come from a very patriotic family with several members having served in the Army. All of them have returned safe, but I know that for many the loss of a loved one to war is close to the heart for your family. From my family to yours, let me say, Thank you. Thank you for the sacrifice they gave to serve, knowing there could be harm and fatality. You will not be forgotten and we as a family, a community, a nation-are grateful for the freedom we know and get to keep because they fought to keep it. May we never forget the lives lost, past and present, and the freedom we have because of them.
Who are remembering this Memorial Day?
How are you teaching your kids about Memorial Day?