Teaching Kids About Memorial Day

Memorial Day American Flags

As May draws to a close, families in the United States are preparing for the Memorial Day weekend. Did you know that Jewish citizens have served in every branch of the military in every major conflict throughout the history of America. Jewish military personnel have received high honors and awards for their service including the Medal of Honor.

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While your children might associate Memorial Day with long weekends and barbecues with friends, the true purpose of the holiday is to honor the sacrifices of brave men and women who have served in the United States  armed forces. In addition to attending your local Memorial Day parade and celebration, you can also use the long weekend as a way to reinforce some special Jewish values like l’dor v’dor (passing on traditions and knowledge), tikkun olam (repairing the world), and kavod (respect) while engaging in some community service as a family.

As a special Memorial Day feature, here are stories and activities to help you celebrate this holiday.

 

 

Read

Private Joel and the Sewell Mountain Seder

Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky

Recommended for ages 7 to 8

In this fact-based story of the Revolutionary War, a Jewish soldier from Poland lights a Hanukkah menorah and has the opportunity to share the story of the Maccabees with his superior officer, General George Washington.


The Wall by Eve Bunting

Recommended for ages 5 to 7

A boy and his father visit the Vietnam War Memorial to locate the boy’s grandfather’s name on the wall.


The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara Walsh

Recommended for ages 7 to 9

When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers, and she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever.

Watch

While Memorial Day activities are the focus, these videos will help put the holiday into perspective. They also offer some extra info that parents might find fascinating too. 

Memorial Day via PBS Kids
 

 

Beyond the Story: American Women During World War II via Scholastic
 

Do

Military Care Packages
 

Military Care Package

Send greetings or packages to those serving in the US military. A thank-you letter sent overseas is a great way to show appreciation for the men and women serving our country. Resources like A Million Thanks and Military.com can help direct you to the right place. If you’d like to reach out to Jewish soldiers, contact the Jewish Welfare Board Chaplains Council.

Volunteering
 

VA Volunteering

Bring baked goods or volunteer your time to a local veterans hospital or Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

Join a Parade
 

Join a Parade

Memorial Day parades are a fun, active way to honor the troops while enjoying the spring weather. The website VetFriends has a list of Memorial Day parades by state.

More

Annual National Memorial Day Shabbat via National Museum of American Jewish Military History 
Rock Your Memorial Day Weekend via Highlights Magazine
6 Quick Projects for a Meaningful Memorial Day via Scholastic