Memorial Day is coming up, and our family is getting ready to celebrate. We are going to do everything we know that is traditional—barbecue. That is it so far. We know that there is more to it, the serious side about men being lost to war, but we are not sure how to celebrate that part with our two boys, ages four and six? Any thoughts?
~ Inquisitive Mom
Hi Inquisitive Mom,
Thank you so much for your inquisitive question. I really had to think about that one and am so very glad I did. First I checked out some history and then went on from there. I hope this helps.
Interestingly enough, there are dramatic parallels of what is happening to Memorial Day with what happened to Mother’s Day. See
See May! Happy Mother’s Day for how Mother’s Day changed.
History of Memorial Day…
There are many stories about the actual beginnings of Memorial Day with no one version that clearly stands out. We do know it started in Civil War times and that women in the South decorated with flowers graves of Confederates who died in war. Some of you may also know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.
Others of you may know that General John Logan gave it his official proclamation in 1868.
Still others of you might know that it did not become a widely accepted holiday until after World War I.
We all know that the traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished.
“Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of this holiday. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored and neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.”
Quoted from http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html
There is a big similarity of Mother’s Day to Memorial Day. Both were originally started because of people who died in war and then both turned into days of joy. Memorial Day, originally a holiday to honor men who died in war, has now become the day that officially ushers in summer along with its more carefree lifestyle.
Modern times teaches us that “It is what it is.” As with Mother’s Day, let us savor what we have created and then in addition… make an effort to benefit from its history.
Just as We are Making an Effort to Return Part of the Original Mother’s Day Concept of…
Recognizing mothers everywhere who have lost a child, so we can make a similar effort to return on Memorial Day to recognizing once again a time of patriotism for all men who have died fighting for our country. In addition, because wars continue, sad as that may be, it is also fine to share with our children in age-appropriate ways how important they are and how sad it is that so many men throughout the years and still today have lost their lives to war.
And There is More…
We, as parents, know the value of every joyous second that we spend with our children and also the amazing ability of a child to turn even some of our saddest moments into happy ones. We as parents just might be the ones who hold the key to real Memorial Day success. Maybe it is we as parents who are supposed to take the lead to end war, all war, and all the needless deaths that take place with it all the time!
May! The Month of the Mothers
There is no doubt that our children bring us the true lessons of life.
From this day forward, let us do whatever we can to show our appreciation to our children and freely let them know in any and all ways that they are “valued, needed, and important.” Our men have fought long and hard over the years for all of us to have “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and now we must fight long and hard to preserve that gift for every single child growing up today.
NOTE: Several southern states still have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee. However, in addition, every state, ever since the end of World War I, now unites and celebrates together on the last Monday in May the one very same Memorial Day holiday.
Happy Memorial Day to you and your family!
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