Memorial Day is coming up on Monday and so I thought it would be good to remember why we celebrate this national holiday. I must admit that I became aware of my own weakness in American history as I researched the day.
Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and first took place on May 1st, 1865 to commemorate the Union soldiers that gave their lives during the Civil War. Nearly 10,000 people, mostly freedmen (freed slaves), gathered at the Race Course in Charleston, NC where many Union soldiers had died while being held as prisoners by the Confederate army.
Since that time this day has become a nation-wide commemoration of all who have died in the service of our country. People still decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flags and flowers to remember their sacrifice for us.
Because this blog is usually focused on books, I thought it would be helpful to take a look at some of the children’s books that honor this day of remembrance. Perhaps those of you that have children and grandchildren can read one of these books with your kids so that they will know why Memorial Day is special.
Memorial Day by Jacqueline S Cotton introduces kids to the reason we celebrate Memorial Day, the different ways it’s celebrated, and uses pictures to introduce vocabulary around the event.
Memorial Day by Robin Nelson provides similar resources, but also includes a timeline of the development of the holiday to the present day.
The Wall by Eve Bunting follows the trip of a father and son as they look for the boy’s grandfather’s name on the Vietnam memorial.
Memorial Day by Karen Latchana Kenney provides an introduction to the holiday for first graders, including teaching respect for the symbols of America.
Let’s Get Ready for Memorial Day helps kids to prepare for this event and includes images and vocabulary they will need to understand the meaning of the day.
There are many more such books, which is good to see. I would encourage those of you who have children in your lives to take some time on Monday to help them learn about its meaning and the importance of the sacrifice of our military men and women.