By Deborah Flomberg
Memorial Day may be the unofficial start to the summer season, but it’s also a time to remember those who have given their lives while serving in the armed forces. The holiday dates back to 1868, but is still celebrated today across the country in many different ways. It’s a great opportunity to teach your family about American history, the importance of supporting the troops, and how we can help to honor those that have passed.
Of course, since the holiday falls on the last Monday of May, it’s also a chance to welcome the warmest months of the year thus far, and to get out and celebrate as a family. If you’re looking for some different ways to celebrate Memorial Day on May 29 with your family, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Visit Your Local Military Monument(s)
There are so many different military monuments found all over the country.Washington D.C., of course, has a lot of options, but you’ll also find smaller memorials dedicated from coast to coast. Find the nearest monument and take some time to stop by with your family. You’ll find it’s a great way to learn about the specific war or wars that the monument is dedicated to honor, and you’ll be able to start a conversation with your kids about American history and the significance of military memorials.
- Veterans Memorial Park | 3602 N US Highway 301. The park is the location of a beautiful monument called the “Freedom Memorial” which was erected to honor all members of the military, both living and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Attend A Parade
Most local cities also offer Memorial Day parades, which is another wonderful way to honor the day while teaching your kids about its importance. Many parades will feature veterans from previous wars marching, floats, bands and more. Some will also conclude with a memorial service to honor those that have passed, a moment of silence or some other significant way to honor Memorial Day. Plan early and be sure to arrive with enough time to get a spot up front so the smaller kiddos can see. Here’s a list of the parade around Tampa Bay:
- Treasure Island | 9 a.m. on Monday, May 29, 111 108th Ave. in Treasure Island
- Sunset Ceremony at Largo Central Park | 7 p.m. on Monday, May 29, 101 Central Park Drive in Largo
- Ruskin Senior Center | 901 6th St SE, Ruskin
National Moment Of Remembrance
Many people don’t know the true meaning behind Memorial Day. In response, Congress established the National Moment of Remembrance. It asks all Americans to pause, wherever they are, at 3 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day in a moment of national unity for one minute. That specific time was chosen because it’s the time when most Americans are expected to be out, enjoying the freedoms of this country. You’ll find trains blasting their horns at that time, and all Major League Baseball games will be pausing for one minute at the time as well. It’s a simple and easy way to remember the true meaning of the day.
Decorate Your Home With Flags
If you’ve got younger children, craft time is always a great way to bond as a family while also using the opportunity as a teachable moment. Grab some fabric, fabric paint and stencils to help your kids make their own flags or American flag-style tributes. It’s tradition to fly the flag at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, so you can also explain this tradition and what it means as you fly your own flag at home. You can also use this time to teach them about the flag, what each star represents, and why there are 13 stripes on the flag. Then, you’ll have some great home-made flags to use for years to come.
Barbecue With Friends And Family
Of course, the big one for Memorial Day is the backyard barbecue. However, you can make the most of the holiday by making sure your barbecue is patriotic and American-themed. Stick to the classics like hot dogs and hamburgers, but find ways to incorporate red, white and blue in your decorations and side dishes. Ask people to dress in their best red, white and blue gear and serve drinks that match the color scheme. Use the holiday to honor the past, while also making memories with your family that will last a lifetime.