Is Memorial Day the Official Beginning of Summer?
For some, graduations have taken place, school is out and that translates into Summer. We often look at Memorial Day weekend as the official beginning of summer. I hate to disappoint anyone, so please celebrate as you see fit, but the Summer Solstice isn’t until June 21 or 22 each year. It’s often called the longest day of the year, but that’s another blog post! I like to take this weekend and add to my knowledge about Memorial day history. Sometimes even as an adult, it is easy to get Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day confused.
Memorial day is so much more than the “official beginning of summer”. Many of us identify this “long weekend”. with the beginning of summer nonetheless.
Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. We are called to remember the Men and Women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is only “recently” (1971) that Memorial Day became a federal holiday in the United States. Originally it was called Decoration Day.
I don’t know anyone who has died while serving. I know many who have served and who are currently serving. As someone who enjoys freedom, especially the freedom to homeschool, I am deeply grateful for what these men and women have sacrificed, and continue to sacrifice for each of us.
Memorial Day History
Learning a little Memorial Day history is a great way to help honor the day. In 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York the official birthplace of Memorial Day. They chose Waterloo for its reputation. Waterloo was known for closing businesses, decorating graves of soldiers with flowers and flags, and holding events annually to honor the fallen soldiers.
At first, the day was to honor those lost in the Civil War. Since, the United States (and obviously many other countries) had gone through 2 World Wars, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War. Now, Memorial Day is for ALL the fallen of war, regardless of which war.
Where do the Poppies come in?
Another huge element in Memorial day history is the poppies. Where exactly do the poppies come from? The red poppy is a remembrance inspired by a popular World War I poem called – In Flanders Field. They actually classify the poppy as a weed. This may be why it was so prevalent on the battle-worn field that inspired the poem. In Flanders Field was written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The tone he used was to give a voice to the fallen soldiers that were buried under the field of poppies he saw before him. To this day the poem is one of the most famous works to emerge from what we call “The Great War”.
After reading the poem herself, a Frenchwoman named Anna Guérin championed the symbolic power of the red poppy.
In Europe, the poppy is the official symbol of remembrance. Today, nearly a century after World War I ended, millions of people in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Belgium, Australia, and New Zealand don the red flowers every November 11 (known as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day) to commemorate the anniversary of the 1918 armistice. You may recognize this date in the United States as Veteran’s Day – the day we honor all living veterans in the United States.
Here in the United States, we wear the symbolic red poppy on the last Monday in May to honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives fighting for our country.
Celebrating Memorial Day
Homeschool Holiday has freebie for you to help encourage your learners reflect on the day. It contains a letter writing activity in which your learner can write a letter to an active service member, or a retired service member to say THANK YOU. This is an activity that never goes out of style. We can never thank them enough for their service! There are several writing pages in both color and color your own to choose from, instructions for the proper technique for letter writing as well as how to address an envelope.
You will also get color and black and white (Color your own) patterns for poppies and leaves. You are “on your own” to use these to create your own poppy craft. I have provided ideas for a field as well as a wreath, but the sky really is the limit!
More ways to celebrate!
- Display the flag
- Visit gravesites of your loved ones, military or not!
- Visit local Veteran’s homes or Hospitals – deliver your letters!
- Plan to attend a local Parade or picnic
- Research and learn more about the different war memorials.
- Pin on your poppy
- Join the nation at 3:00 local time in the national moment of remembrance (moment of silence)
Thanks for stopping by Happy Hive Homeschooling to learn some Memorial Day History!
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