Somehow, the true meaning of Memorial Day has gotten lost in the three-day-weekend with all the backyard barbecues, beach parties and sales. Memorial Day is to reflect and remember those who lost their lives in service to our country. (Note: Veterans Day is a time to thank those who are serving or have served and are still with us.) It is a somber day of remembrance and honor for the men and women who have died for our country.
Now is a great time to start talking about it with your family and children. Memorial Day is a day to memorialize these Americans who died.
The first national observance of the holiday took place on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., where soldiers from both the Union and the Confederacy rested. In 1882, Decoration Day became known as Memorial Day, a day to honor and remember all who died fighting for freedom in any war, not just those who died in the Civil War. Memorial Day was finally established as a federal holiday in 1971, moved to the last Monday in May and made part of a three-day weekend.
Parents, you can make a difference. Here are ideas for bringing home the true meaning of Memorial Day for your children and you.
Make it personal. For many kids, the whole idea of memorials can seem odd and abstract. Now is a good time to tell loving stories, or even to visit the grave and leave a flower or flag there.
Honor the national holiday. Even if you do just one small thing to participate in this national holiday, you will help your child connect the personal with the political.
Is your community organizing a parade? Teach them to stand proud and solemn when the flag and veterans pass by. This is not a laughing moment.
Put your flag up outside your home. You can also observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.
Celebrate our freedom! Somber as it is, Memorial Day is also a celebration of life, a time when we mark and appreciate the heritage that our fallen soldiers left us. Planning a family barbecue? By all means, do it with joy. Eat, drink and rejoice with loved ones.
Please remember, as Americans we are able to enjoy the freedoms we do because there have been men and women willing to sacrifice their lives so that we can be free. We should all stop and remember this on Memorial Day.
Ceremonies start at 7:45 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Cemetery, then Boughton Hill Cemetery, then the Victor Village Cemetery, followed by a ceremony at the Victor Veterans Memorial in front of the Victor Town Hall.
The Victor Memorial Day parade begins at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 28, followed by a presentation at the Victor Village Town Hall.
Holly Hitchcock Graff serves as post chaplain for American Legion, James Cooke Post 931 in Victor.