Do your kids look at Memorial Day as just a day off?
We have BBQ’s and swim parties. We gather with friends. But, you’ve never discussed the real meaning of the holiday with them…
Yes? I admit. I did too.
And I did it with a bit of guilt.
That’s why I’m so excited to partner with USAA for this post to show you how easy it can be to teach kids about Memorial Day.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t know much about Memorial Day.
It’s strange to admit this, but…
I didn’t serve in the armed forces, nor did any of my immediate family members, so I didn’t feel qualified to talk to my kids about Memorial Day.
When I write it for you to see, it feels like a silly excuse. But there it was, taking up space in my brain and the main reason why I never brought up the true meaning of Memorial Day.
I didn’t know it.
What’s the true meaning of Memorial Day?
Memorial Day is a holiday that honors the memory of United States soldiers who have died defending our nation.
It’s a simple explanation I can give to my kids.
However, it’s important to be clear what it’s NOT. It’s NOT a holiday to honor ALL troops. That’s Veteran’s Day and the distinction is important.
Memorial Day dates back to the Civil War. There were so many casualties that the nation had to create national cemeteries to bury the fallen.
Back then, it was called Decoration Day because people decorated soldiers graves with flowers and American Flags.
Sometime after World War II, people started to refer to the day as Memorial Day. Congress made the name official in 1967.
How can we start this conversation?
Kids love crafts. I love crafts. Hopefully, YOU love crafts, too.
Here’s a simple one you can do. The best part: you probably have the supplies for it already.
We’re going to make a red poppy.
You’ll need a:
- pipe cleaner
- coffee filter
- red marker
- red cupcake liner
Why a red poppy?
When I asked my 10-year-old daughter why the red poppy is a symbol of Memorial Day she said,
“It’s because of all the blood in the fields after everyone died.”
NOT the real reason. Let’s clear this up.
Short history lesson: In 1915, a Canadian doctor wrote a poem called, “In Flanders Fields” which described the red poppies that grew around soldiers’ graves in Flanders.
Three years later, a YWCA worker, Moina Michael, was inspired by the poem. So, she wore a red silk poppy pinned to her jacket to a war secretaries conference. She also brought along another two dozen to pass out to others. In 1920, the National American Legion adopted the poppy as the national symbol of remembrance.
“Oh,” my daughter replied, “Well, that’s not what they told us in school.”
Now that we’re good on that…
Let’s make our poppy.
- Color the coffee filter red with the marker. This is the most time-consuming part of this super quick craft.
2. Crinkle the edges of the coffee filter. My daughter folded the filter in and smashed it up a little.
3. Invert the red cupcake liner so that it lays on top of the now-red filter.
4. Thread the pipe cleaner through two holes in the button and poke a hole through the middle of the filter and cupcake liner.
You now have a red poppy – a symbol that remembers and honors the soldiers who died while serving our country.
By doing this craft, you have a simple way to discuss the real meaning of Memorial Day. If you’re having a BBQ or pool party, its an easy craft to have at a small table. Kids can create while honoring the true reason for the holiday.
No more guilt needed.
Want to take this one step further? Visit Poppy in Memory and dedicate a poppy to a fallen service member.