The sound of taps playing in the distance, seven guns firing in unison, the sight of tomb stones arranged in perfect lines with tiny American flags flapping in the wind are reminders of sacrifices made every day. These are the sounds and images that prevail the last Monday in May. Remembering friends and family who have passed away provides a sense of comfort, but what about the remembrance of the men and women who lost their lives for our freedoms? How are they remembered? Do students understand the concept of sacrifice and how it impacts their lives?
The earliest record of memorializing war soldiers was after the Civil War when people in the North and South decorated graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. This act of remembering fallen soldiers was named Decoration Day. Decoration Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan with the first official observance on May 30, 1868. The South did not observe Decoration Day, preferring to honor their dead on separate days than the North, until after World War I. In 1882, the name was changed to Memorial Day and soldiers who had died in other wars were also honored.
It was not until 1967 that Memorial Day was declared a federal holiday by the United States government. Becoming a federal holiday allowed businesses, schools, and government buildings to close in remembrance of the past and present military and those who had made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
To promote unity around the country volunteers place flags on graves of soldiers and national monuments host a moment of silence at 3 pm, local time. The red poppy flower is the national symbol for Memorial Day symbolizing the soldiers’ sacrifice. These flowers are given to the soldier’s families or placed on tombstones.
WEBINAR: Check out the recorded version of the webinar with Knovation and BrainPOP sharing amazing resources to support your instruction and celebrations around Memorial Day and other summer holidays.
Also, be sure to check out our content ideas on the main page (http://www.knownewideas.com) for great resources you can use for your Memorial Day classroom activities.