What should kids know about Memorial Day?

Written by Janet Denison
Published on May 22, 2017

Kids probably think Memorial Day is about a day of vacation, barbeques, parades, and the chance to hang the flag out on the front porch. Parents tend to protect kids from the real meaning of the holiday. There will be plenty of time for them to understand the sacrifices of war, the cost of freedom, and the truth about the day. But should we talk to our kids about the realities or should we just let them enjoy grilling hot dogs and a trip to the park?

Memorial Day has been around since May 30, 1868. Union General John A. Logan declared the day an occasion to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. In 1868, every child in America knew someone, probably a family member, who had been killed in the war. The general thought it was important to remember the cost of fighting each other. The Civil War is still the war that cost America the most. In fact, more Americans died in the Civil War than in all the other wars combined. Every casualty of the Civil War was an American.

On May 11, 1950, Congress passed a resolution requesting that the President issue a proclamation calling on Americans to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer. Americans were asked to pray for permanent peace and there was to be a moment in the day that the nation was supposed to stop and everyone was supposed to pray. Sixty-seven years later, those original ideas about Memorial Day have changed.

But maybe Christian families should consider bringing those prayers back. As parents, it is normal to want to protect our kids from the harsher realities of life. We don’t want our children to be fearful, worried or grieve. But, we shouldn’t want them to be self-focused or unaware either.

Memorial Day gives us a chance to talk to our kids about some important topics.

  • We live in a free country because others have made the ultimate sacrifice for us. That fact gives parents the chance to talk about the sacrifice Jesus made for us eternally.
  • We are supposed to remember and honor the soldiers on Memorial Day. We are supposed to remember what Jesus did for us. That is why we take the Lord’s Supper “in remembrance” of him.
  • Memorial Day began because of the war our country had with one another, and it was the worst war of all. That fact gives us the chance to talk about why Jesus said we are to love and forgive one another. The most damaging fights your children will have could be the fights they have with each other.
  • Our nation doesn’t remind us to stop and pray for peace anymore. But Memorial Day gives you the chance to have that prayer time with your family. Pick a time to stop, maybe right in the middle of the family fun, to pray for peace in our country, in our world and in our homes.

Memorial Day can be a great day for the family to spend together but we can help our children understand the deeper meaning of the holiday as well. We are a blessed nation but we need to remember and honor those who gave their lives so we could be.

Our kids need to remember. Let’s help them grow up with an awareness of, and an appreciation for, this country and their eternal home as well. Memorial Day is a great opportunity to do both.

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Janet Denison

Janet Denison teaches others to live an authentic faith through her writing, speaking, and teaching ministry. She blogs weekly at Foundationswithjanet.org and often at ChristianParenting.org.

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