Memorial Day for Parents and Kids

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Julie - Staff
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Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 11:52 am

Memorial Day for Parents and Kids

Unread post by Julie - Staff » Sat May 26, 2018 7:48 pm


Memorial Day formally began in 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War. The day was originally called "Decoration Day."

"Mourners honored the Civil War dead by decorating their graves with flowers. On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery."
(Source - 1868: Civil War dead honored on Decoration Day ... ration-day)

Facts at a glance:
• "Memorial Day originally honored military personnel who died in the Civil War (1861-1865).
• Roughly 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War — making it the deadliest war in American history. About 644,000 Americans have died in all other conflicts combined.
• It wasn't always Memorial Day — it used to be known as Decoration Day.
• Red poppies are known as a symbol of remembrance, and it's a tradition to wear them to honor those who died in war."
(Source - 10 historical facts about Memorial Day ... /27817017/)

Video for middle grades:

More details:
  • Choosing the date
"According to legend, Logan chose May 30 because it was a rare day that didn’t fall on the anniversary of a Civil War battle, though some historians believe the date was selected to ensure that flowers across the country would be in full bloom."

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 moved "Memorial Day from its traditional observance on May 30 (regardless of the day of the week), to a set day—the last Monday in May. The move has not been without controversy, though. Veterans groups, concerned that more Americans associate the holiday with first long weekend of the summer and not its intended purpose to honor the nation’s war dead, continue to lobby for a return to the May 30 observances."
  • Expanding the holiday
"For more than 50 years, the holiday was used to commemorate those killed just in the Civil War, not in any other American conflict. It wasn’t until America’s entry into World War I that the tradition was expanded to include those killed in all wars."

"Memorial Day was not officially recognized nationwide until the 1970s, with America deeply embroiled in the Vietnam War." It became a Federal Holiday in 1971.
  • "One of the earliest commemorations was organized by recently freed slaves.
As the Civil War neared its end, thousands of Union soldiers, held as prisoners of war, were herded into a series of hastily assembled camps in Charleston, South Carolina. Conditions at one camp, a former racetrack near the city’s Citadel, were so bad that more than 250 prisoners died from disease or exposure, and were buried in a mass grave behind the track’s grandstand. Three weeks after the Confederate surrender, an unusual procession entered the former camp: On May 1, 1865, more than 1,000 recently freed slaves, accompanied by regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops (including the Massachusetts 54th Infantry) and a handful of white Charlestonians, gathered in the camp to consecrate a new, proper burial site for the Union dead. The group sang hymns, gave readings and distributed flowers around the cemetery, which they dedicated to the “Martyrs of the Race Course.”
  • "Soldiers plant flags in front of every tombstone on Memorial Day weekend.
At Arlington Cemetery, the site of the first Decoration Day, "every Memorial Day weekend since 1948, troops in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment—the Army’s official ceremonial unit known as the “Old Guard”—have placed small American flags in front of all of Arlington’s tombstones. Each flag is planted precisely one foot in front of a grave marker and perfectly centered. This year, 1,700 soldiers participated in the tradition known as “Flags-In.” They planted approximately 220,000 flags on the Thursday evening before Memorial Day, and they will be removed at the holiday’s conclusion."

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers is among the Arlington graves honored on Memorial Day. However, "advancements in DNA testing may mean that all future remains will be able to be positively identified and no future interments at the Tomb of the Unknowns will occur.

Video teaching about the Tom of the Unknowns:
Arlington video (somber):

(Sources - ... morial-day ... sing-facts)


The poppy specifically became the symbol of rememberance when later, in 1915, the poem In Flanders Fields was written in Britain during the first World War.

Two years later, in 1917, an American composer based a song or hymn on the poem.

Learn more:

Ideas for commemorating Memorial Day with Kids ... ldren.html

Little ones: Memorial Day Surprise, storybook read aloud about all the parts of a Memorial Day Parade, including (spoiler) a grandfather who was a veteran:

Any other ideas you've found or traditions your family has shared?

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