The Last Monday of May

As we are somehow already at the last Monday of May, it’s important that we acknowledge the reason why many people are off of work or school today. 

When people hear of Memorial Day, they often think of the unofficial kickoff to summer. This long weekend is usually when pools open up, the weather consistently stays warmer, the school year is over (or is nearly winding down!), and people have grilling out at the forefront of their mind.

While I’m all for summer and the unofficial start to that season, as a current active-duty military wife, I find it especially important to recognize that Memorial Day means so much more than any of the previously discussed activities.  

What Memorial Day Is and What Memorial Day Isn’t

To put it simply, Memorial Day is a day to honor the men and women who have died due to serving in our military. 

From my own experiences, I know that many people often confuse the meaning of this day with Veterans Day (honoring those who have previously served), Armed Services Day, or any other day that has any military affiliation. As a military wife, many people often use Memorial Day as a day to intentionally thank me and my husband for our service. While we definitely appreciate the support and encouragement, Memorial Day is not a day about us. Memorial Day is only about those servicemembers and families who ultimately sacrificed it all in the name of serving their country. We are forever supportive of those families.

The First Memorial Day

Memorial Day became a recognized holiday in 1866, after the conclusion of the American Civil War. The intention of Memorial Day even back then was to still honor the soldiers who had died fighting for that water. Women’s groups used this day to lay flowers on graves, so this day was actually first called Decoration Day. The name was officially changed to Memorial Day after World War I. 

Honoring Memorial Day

Many communities have parades, memorial services, or other important events on this weekend in order to commemorate Memorial Day. Other Americans use today as an opportunity to visit military members’ graves and to decorate them with flowers or flags. The president of the United States often spends today giving a speech and then visiting to lay wreaths on the largest US military burial ground, Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia. 

Honoring Memorial Day In Your Own Way

If you find that your child is ready to handle learning about the meaning behind this holiday, here are some ways that you can choose to acknowledge the day:

  • Visit any monuments that might be nearby that are dedicated to military personnel. Have a discussion about how those military members sacrifice for our freedom.
  • Take a moment throughout your day to pause, reflect on those military members who have sacrificed it all, and think about your appreciation for their families.
  • Red poppies are the flower that are most commonly associated with this day. Have your child create a drawing of this flower and give it to any military service member that you know, acknowledging the reason behind this holiday.
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