Want to make Memorial Day meaningful? Here's a short list of family-friendly activities to make the holiday full of gratitude for the men and women who serve our country. These ideas can help kids understand Memorial Day is more than a day off school. We hope this list inspires discussion and creativity in your family this holiday weekend!
1. Fly the colors
If you have a flag at home, kids can help raise it. Traditionally, it's flown at half-staff in the morning to remember those who lost their lives in service to the country. At noon, the flag is raised to full-staff for the rest of the day to honor the living who resolve not to let others' sacrifices be in vain. If you don't have your own Old Glory, have your kids make a flag, either with construction paper or paint, and display it in your front window.
2. Write thank-you cards and letters
Writing a thank-you note only takes a few minutes, but can mean a world of difference to a soldier overseas away from his or her family. For ideas, check out these thank-you samples from A Million Thanks, an amazing nonprofit that coordinates military appreciation efforts. Or, you can also send a free Memorial Day e-card from the site 123greetings.com.
3. Make a care package
Family and friends might want to send care packages to support service members. From crackers to toiletries, sunscreen to blank note cards with envelopes, this list of items commonly requested by soldiers can guide your choices.
How to send? Members of the general public cannot on own their send care packages to deployed service members as they did during past conflicts. But you can go online to the USO's Wishbook page and pick from a whole array of gift items and packages in various price ranges that they will send on your behalf.
4. Host a lemonade stand or bake sale
Raise money in your neighborhood to help military families by baking goodies or setting up an old-fashioned lemonade stand. Many organizations help military families, but here are just a couple of Washington-based groups your kids could donate to: Operation Military Family, based in Edmonds, helps support military families; and Outdoors for All, which is a national leader in providing recreation for people of all abilities, including disabled veterans.
This article was originally published in May 2013 and updated most recently in May 2021.