Memorial Day - Engage and Teach Your Children about this Special Day

Honor and Remember all those that died while Served Our Country

By Anna Hall, and Brenna Gutell May 19, 2024

How much do you know about Memorial Day? How much do your children know? This is a great opportunity to teach your family all about this important and special day. This is a day when we remember and honor those who died while serving our country in the U.S. military, it's a U.S. federal holiday observed every year on the last Monday of May. This is a often a three day weekend for most families.

Memorial Day is the last Monday of May

Honoring those that served can be as simple as taking some time out of the day to remember the true meaning of this important day and showing respect to those who have given their lives in service to our country, as well as by teaching your children about our county's rich history, the importance of freedom, and the sacrifices that have been made to make the U.S.A. what it is today. Memorial Day - Interesting Facts to Share with your Family

Remember that "Freedom is not Free."

Teaching the meaning of Memorial Day to your children can be tricky

It's easy to get lost in the rush of sales, picnics, parades and fun during what many see as a long weekend kicking off the unofficial start to summer, and for some the end of the school year. However, communities all around the United States will have a variety of ceremonies and events to pay respect and remembrance to those who have died while serving our country. These events can be a wonderful way to engage and teach your children about the true meaning of Memorial Day. In addition to in-person events there are also some virtual events you can enjoy from the comfort of home. 

In-Person Community Events   

Visit the Macaroni KID Conejo Valley - Malibu - Calabasas calendar for the most up to date event information.

Learn more by visiting Local Museums with your Kids:

Some museum websites offer learning resources and virtual exhibits

Battleship USS Iowa Museum a naval history museum

Open Daily: 10 AM – 5 PM or visit online

250 S. Harbor Blvd, Los Angeles (San Pedro), CA 90731 | phone: 877-446-9261 or 310-971-4462

American Military Museum - also known as Tankland

Home to over 170 military vehicles and outdoor exhibits dating from 1933 to the present.

Public hours:  Friday - Saturday - Sunday from 10 AM - 4:30 PM | Closed: Christmas Eve and Day and New Years Eve and Day

1918 Rosemead Blvd., South El Monte, CA 91733 | Phone: (626) 442-1776

Please note:  This outdoor Museum will be closed during or after rain due to muddy conditions

U.S. Seabee Museum 

Front Desk: (805) 982-5165

3201 N. Ventura Road - Naval Base Ventura County PH, Building 100, Port Hueneme, CA 93043
On the corner of Ventura Road and Sunkist


Museum hours: 10 am to 4 pm, Monday to Saturday | Closed: Sunday and all Federal holidays

Free Admission

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

Museum hours:  Open Daily 10:00 am - 5:00 pm | Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day

Check their calendar, they typically have special holiday events

40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, CA 93065

Not so local - but worth a Day or Weekend Trip to visit

USS Midway Museum and aircraft carrier museum

Open Daily: 10 AM - 5 PM - last admission 4 PM, or visit online

(619) 544-9600 | 910 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101

Honor and Remember With your Kids:

1. Organize a neighborhood parade: Get the kids to decorate their bikes and trikes or use red, white and blue decorations to adorn wagons and strollers to parade around your neighborhood with others.  If you prefer a socially distanced option organize a car parade through your neighborhood. End with a refreshing ice cream treat and enjoy the time with your neighbors.

2Pause and observe a moment of silence:  Anywhere you are at 12:00 PM PST pause for two minutes in memory of our fallen heroes.

3. Fly the American flag: On Memorial Day, the flag should first be raised to the top of the staff, then slowly lowered to half-staff, until noon when it should be raised to the top of the staff for the rest of the day. Guidelines for displaying the American flag

4. Visit a historical site or cemetery: Tour a historic battlefield or a soldiers' memorial for a personal look at the sacrifices made by our servicemen, many virtual options are available. Decorate the graves of soldiers with flags or flowers, many scout troops do this.

5. Attend a local event in honor of Memorial Day: Be it a parade, memorial service or another public gathering, join those in your community to mark this special day. There are also some virtual events to choose from.

6. Talk to a veteran: Take the kids to hear the story of a serviceman or servicewoman and encourage them to ask questions to better understand the sacrifices military members make. Bring cookies or flowers or a handmade note as a sign of thanks.  Teach your kids to say "thank you for your service" anytime they see a military member in uniform. I often see retired military wearing a hat indicating they were in the service and I make it a point to thank them for their service.

7. Make a patriotic craft or recipe to commemorate the day:

Flag pin on denim shirt pocketDIY A Beaded American Flag Pin to Show Your Patriotism

Make Poppies to Honor Memorial Day Make Poppies to Honor Memorial Day 

Cool Berry Flag Cake 

Homemade Patriotic Fruit Popsicles

Patriotic Picnic Placemat craft

Get Crafty With Salt Dough To Make Patriotic Magnets

Recycle/Re-Use Craft: DIY Candle Holders

Did you know that . . .

  • The Grand Army of the Republic began decorating the graves of fallen service members with flowers in May 1868, which was then known as "Decoration Day."
  • Several towns across America claimed to observe their own version of the holiday as early as 1866.
  • The first Memorial / Decoration Day commemoration may have actually been much earlier and organized by former Black slaves less than one month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865, read more about it here
  • In 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday, to be observed on the last Monday in May, moving it from the static date of May 30th, in order to create a 3-day weekend.
  • On the Thursday before Memorial Day, small American flags are placed at each of the 400,000+ gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery and other cemeteries nation-wide.
  • To encourage more people to observe Memorial Day, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act in 2000, which asks people to stop what they are doing at 3:00 PM local time and observe a minute of silence to honor those who lost their lives defending the country. 
  • On Memorial Day, the flag should first be raised to the top of the staff, then slowly lowered to half-staff, until noon when it should be raised to the top of the staff for the rest of the day.
  • Red poppies are considered the Memorial Day flower. There is a poem called "In Flanders Fields" that refers to the fields of poppies growing among soldiers' graves during the First World War.
  • Interesting things you may not know about Memorial Day

Learn more at: 

"We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them." ~Francis A. Walker

Updated May 19, 2024

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