For most kids, Memorial Day means no school, a short break in time for an exciting summer. While that may be important to them at their tender age, they should also learn the reason for the freedom of no school. That small freedom cost many men and women their lives in war. These facts are age appropriate for young kids to learn about the rich history of their country.
Decoration Day was the original name for Memorial Day. It was a time to “decorate the graves of North and South” Solider Casualties of the Civil War. It was a time to forgive others and a day to remember the lives of the soldiers who died protecting their lands. Allow small children to honor the day by Creating a Flag out of Crumpled Tissue Paper (Designed to educate at a kindergarten level).
Number of Causalities in the Civil War:
“Roughly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men, lost their lives” – allow kids to relate to the lives lost by learning about their own family members who have served or who are serving in any branch of the military. Let them write the names out on cards and make a chain around the room of all your classes. It gives them the foresight in knowing and relating to the meaning and appreciation of Memorial Day and exactly how many lives were lost. I would believe that this type of project would best be served with kids in middle school or above.
Status of the Flag (What People Do)
The American flag should be “flown at half mass from dawn until noon.” At many local stores, flag sets are sold that can allow children of all ages to assist in raising and lowering the flag. It is a wonderful opportunity for kids to connect the holiday with the flag and honor their country. The earlier that kids are exposed to learning about their country the more likely they are to become involved citizens.
Where Did Memorial Day Originate From?
“Waterloo, NY was declared the “birthplace” of Memorial Day in 1966 by Congress and then by President Lyndon Baines Johnson”. A good way for middle school thru high school kids to learn about the birthplace of Memorial Day is to have them create and brainstorm the routes, paths and other facts of the day. It is only through research that the reasons and answers for the day can be cemented into their minds and appreciated by their hearts. Let them work in teams as they recreate and enact the scenes of the era.
Removing the Flags
Flown at Arlington Cemetery takes approximately three hours. Is it possible that the students would be able to decorate a portion of the school grounds to recreate the look at Arlington Cemetery? If so, it would provide a clearer understanding of the effects on military members from every branch of service. Put on an assembly for the school where the students can reenact the famous battles.
There are a number of ways that allow tots and teens to incorporate the true and valuable meaning of Memorial Day. Take a moment to encourage out youth to not only understand the day but for them to also become a part of its rich history.