We have always celebrated heroes throughout human history. In stories and in real life, those we consider ‘heroes’ have always been the brave men and women who have worked for the benefit of others and the greater good. Since 1868, when it was celebrated as Decoration Day, Americans have honor of these heroes by placing wreaths of flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers.
This year, how we celebrate Memorial Day will be different from what we are used to, but here are a few ways you might carry on the spirit of the Memorial Day holiday with your family at home:
1) Thank a U.S. Serviceperson
Memorial Day is generally to commemorate military servicepersons who have already since passed but it is also a great time to remember those who are currently served or retired. Write a letter, send a gift or some flowers to someone you knew who served in the U.S. military. If you don’t know one personally, Operation Gratitude is a non-profit organization that helps individuals and families express their gratitude to U.S. Troops, Veterans, New Recruits, or Wounded Heroes and their Caregivers. You can choose the type of serviceperson you would like to write to and the website includes specific advice on how to write a letter. They accept letters year-round but it is a great activity to do with your family this Memorial Day.
2) Watch a Memorial Day Concert at Home
Every year, PBS broadcasts The National Memorial Day Concert to honor and remember U.S. servicemen through song, documentaries, and dramatic readings. For those of you who will miss showing your pride and appreciation through Memorial Day gatherings might capture the song of that spirit while in quarantine at home.
3) Run a Virtual Marathon
As challenges have always been the “mother of invention” the current lockdown has taken a new spin on an old classic. You can now register to virtually run in this Remember Our Fallen Marathon, a 21-kilometer marathon wherever you might choose. You can run, walk inside or out and make sure to submit your results on their website. According to the Virtual Run website, which runs many other marathons besides, proceeds for this specific event will go towards charities related to military veterans or active military.
4) Learn More about U.S. History
There are many different ways to learn more about U.S. military history and Memorial Day is a perfect time to do a little learning about their important contributions to world history. This blog provides resources for military families and has collected different resources to help teach kids about U.S. military history at home. This page includes podcasts, books, and online website recommendations that help us learn more about specific people, events, and more.
The Vietnam Veteran Memorial Fund offers a virtual tour, a place to send a video or email message to honor those who served during the Vietnam War.
5) Memorial Day Worksheet for Kids
Combine learning about Memorial Day with some worksheets for the kids! A collection of printable downloads of worksheets around the Memorial Day theme. Do any of the above activities, discuss Memorial Day with your family and give your kids an opportunity to do some word searches or scrambles with words associated with Memorial Day. Note: This website has other activities you might want to check out even after Memorial Day.
Hosting a BBQ or watching a Memorial Day parade are the traditional ways we’ve celebrated fallen soldiers and in this strange and unsettling time, it is fitting to continue the important tradition of remembering our soldiers and the ideals for which they made the ultimate sacrifice. How will you honor those who have lost their lives in service to others?