“Private Ryan: These guys deserve to go home as much as I do. They’ve fought just as hard.
Captain Miller: Is that what I’m supposed to tell your mother when she gets another folded American flag?
Private Ryan: You can tell her that when you found me, I was with the only brothers I had left. And that there was no way I was deserting them. I think she’d understand that.”
-Famous lines from the popular film “Saving Private Ryan”
I was born in a simple working-class family. No riches, no fame, no glory. But despite living a simple life, I am proud that I was raised in a household where servicemen are highly valued. My parents always pointed out the bravery of our soldiers who travel across the world and leave their loved ones behind to fight for our independence and security. These men and women make sacrifices for our country that they are often not appreciated for.
The lines from the movie “Saving Private Ryan” have inspired me through the years. I consider myself a patriot and I believe that these brave men and women deserve all the recognition, respect, appreciation and love that we can give.
So don’t judge me if I believe that Memorial Day means more than a backyard BBQ or reuniting with old friends. We only have one day a year to honor those who died serving our country. Here are some of the ways to educate our kids about this holiday and get them involved to remind them why we celebrate Memorial Day.
1. Make some time.
Take the lesson out of the classroom and go on a field trip and visit a nearby military cemetery. Stop by at a local flower shop and let the kids pick out some to decorate a fallen soldier’s grave. If you are up for a road trip, then you can check out the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota, Freedom Trail in Boston and the other memorials and battlefields in the country.
2. Hold your own ceremony.
Hang a flag at half-staff at your place to honor and remember the brave individuals who gave up their lives for us.
3. Go to a parade.
Most towns hold parades or other special activities on Memorial Day. Bring the kids to the celebration and encourage them to clap, salute and stand at attention while the retired soldiers walk past them.
Spend an hour or two making decorations or artwork in line with the event. Help your kids make a replica of a medal of honor. Print coloring pages that illustrate the history and sacrifices of our country’s brave military people.
5. Show your appreciation.
Bake some cookies. Pack and send some sweets and a letter of appreciation to the families of the fallen soldiers or to the military men and women who are still in service.
Have your kids raise money with a bake sale or lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to a trusted military organization. Choose a cause that’s most relatable or important to you — wounded soldiers, grieving families, veterans with PTSD, etc.
7. Write letters.
To remind your kids that Memorial Day is more than just a day off of school, have them take the time to write a letter to current soldiers or veterans. These letters can be dropped off at one of the many A Million Thanks drop off locations.