Teaching our Kids About Memorial Day

Teaching our kids about memorial day.jpg

I won’t lie. We grill out frequently for Memorial Day weekend. It’s a delicious, delicious tradition. I’m mighty handy in the kitchen with the prep work, and my husband mans the grill like a pro.  We also spend the weekend getting projects completed, housework caught up on, and if we’re lucky a bit of fun relaxation time.

We also make sure we honor Memorial Day for why it’s here.  To remember the soldiers who did not return to their families because they were protecting our freedoms.

In honor of Memorial Day, I wanted to give you a little insight on how we discuss the holiday with our girls to help them understand the meaning of it.

My girls are old enough that they are starting to understand death. You can tell while in conversation with them that the gears are turning as they try to figure it out, but they know the difference between things that are alive and not alive. They’ve also experienced the death of a close family friend, which was the start of their questions about death and dying.

The girls aren’t old enough to understand war. They know it’s something we’ve mentioned, but they don’t really have the questions about it yet, or they don’t know how to word those questions.  I’m okay with that.  As they get older, they’ll learn more about it and I’m sure the questions will be more meaningful to them at that point.

They also know their Daddy is in the Army, and they’ve heard us tell them about the other branches of the military.  They regularly visit with other soldiers in uniform, visit military establishments and military events. They know it’s a job, but I don’t think they’ve fully comprehended exactly what a soldier is.

I mention these three ideas because they are three important concepts involved in Memorial Day and I wanted you to know where our kids are in their understanding of them so you can adjust your conversation with your kids according to their understanding of the concepts if you decide to take on our approach (which is pretty darn basic at this time).

On Friday we went to the state office building to drop off the homeschool registration paperwork for this coming school year.  While we were there we made sure to give the girls a little tour and explained some of the departments as we walked around.  This was sort of an introduction to government for them. They had a few questions, but being as little as they are they just wanted to talk to people, sit on benches and drink from every water fountain they found.

On one wall we found a memorial of photographs of fallen soldiers. Each had the soldiers name and rank as well as a short blurb about their service. Luckily I did not personally know any of the soldiers, but I had heard of many of them.  My husband looked at each image and read about each soldier. When he came to a soldier he remembered, either through hearing stories from others or from his own work while deployed, he told me about them.  Looking at the pictures and hearing the stories always bring a tear to my eye whether it’s the first time I heard the story or the thirtieth.

As we talked about the memorial of soldiers, we talked to the girls about what Memorial Day meant.  We told them how these men and women gave their lives protecting us and it’s important to remember them. We also told them we celebrate Memorial Day by enjoying our family time because that is ultimately what soldiers are fighting for. To make sure we have the freedoms to enjoy our family and our lives each and every day.

The girls are still a bit young to fully understand, and we’ve revisited the idea a few times over the weekend.  For now, they’re going to run around in our backyard with red, white and blue pinwheels.  I’m good with that. I don’t want to weigh them down with too many heavy thoughts while they are young. I just want them to learn to appreciate their history and their freedom as they get older.

How do you talk about Memorial Day with your kids? Tell me in the comments.

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