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30 Smart Things To Do With Your Family On Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a special holiday in the United States that honors and remembers those who have died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

It is observed on the last Monday of May each year and is often celebrated with parades, ceremonies, and family gatherings.

This year Memorial Day is May 27, 2024.

As a mother, I want my children to understand the importance of this holiday.

Not because of the yummy hamburgers they’ll enjoy or the red, white, and blue jello treat we make every year.

I want them to know their freedom, their peace, and their chance for learning and worshipping is because of men and women they’ve never met, who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country and our freedom.

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30 Smart Things To Do With Your Family On Memorial Day

If you are looking for ways to spend quality time with your family this Memorial Day, here are some ideas to consider that gives back to our military family and community.

A young boy in a red shirt smiles joyfully, holding a small american flag, as he watches a parade.

1 – Attend a Parade

Many cities host parades on Memorial Day to honor those who have served in the military. Attending a parade is not only a fun way to spend time with your family, but it also shows support for our veterans and active duty members.

You can find parades on your community’s Facebook page, or contact your local city office for more information

Two young girls smiling at the camera, one holding an american flag and the other holding a sign that says "thanks" in red letters.

2 – Write a Letter to Troops

Sending a heartfelt thank you letter to a family or spouse of a fallen soldier is a meaningful way to show your appreciation. If you don’t know anyone personally, you can reach out to organizations such as Operation Gratitude or A Million Thanks to send letters or care packages to deployed troops.

Just sending a simple thank you, or even if your toddler draws a doodle picture, can make a big impact. Especially since their fallen son or daughter was remembered.

A senior male doctor with a beard, holding a tablet, discussing health concerns with a young male patient in a hospital waiting area.

3 – Volunteer at a Veteran’s Home

Reach out to your local veteran’s home and see if they have any volunteer opportunities for Memorial Day. You can help with decorating the facility, serving food, or even just spending time talking to the residents and listening to their stories.

Two people walking briskly on a sunlit pathway near water, wearing athletic gear and sneakers, focusing on their lower bodies.

4 – Participate in a Memorial Day Run/Walk

Many communities host runs or walks on Memorial Day to honor and remember those who have served. Participating in one of these events not only promotes fitness and wellness, but it also supports organizations that help veterans and their families.

Row of white gravestones marked with american flags on a grassy field, with autumn trees in fiery orange hues in the background.

5 – Visit a Military Cemetery

Take time to visit a military cemetery and pay your respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. You can bring flowers or flags (you can buy American flags for real cheap here) to place on graves, or simply take a moment of silence to reflect and remember.

An elderly man smiling broadly, wearing glasses and a cap labeled "wwii korea veteran" with colorful ribbons, set against a blurred natural background.

6 – Donate to a Veteran’s Organization

Consider making a donation to a veteran’s organization in honor of Memorial Day. Organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project, Fisher House Foundation, and Disabled American Veterans provide valuable support and resources for veterans and their families.

A small american flag, shaped like a bullet, stands prominently among red roses by a tombstone in a cemetery, conveying a solemn and patriotic atmosphere.

7 – Watch the Memorial Day Concert

Every year PBS hosts a Memorial Day concert on the National Mall in Washington D.C. The concert features performances by top artists and tributes to military heroes. You can watch this show online to show your support and appreciation for the service men and women who have died in combat.

A young girl and boy sitting at a table with their eyes closed and hands together in a prayerful pose, focusing peacefully.

8 – Have a Moment of Silence

The National Moment of Remembrance is observed at 3:00 PM local time on Memorial Day. Take a moment to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by those who have served and remember why we celebrate this holiday.

A family enjoying time together indoors. a man in military uniform, using a wheelchair, shares a moment with a young boy on his lap, while a woman holding a coffee mug smiles at them from a nearby chair.

9 – Thank a Veteran

Take the time to thank a veteran for their service and sacrifice. You can do this in person, send a card or letter to a veteran you know or reach out to a local VA hospital or retirement home to show your appreciation.

A woman and a small child walk through a large, hollowed-out tree trunk in a sunlit forest, creating a natural archway.

10 – Visit a National Park

Spend Memorial Day visiting a national park or monument that honors and commemorates our nation’s military. Some popular options include the National Mall in Washington D.C., Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

A family, including a person in military uniform, posing proudly with american flags in front of their house with a red roof and large lawn.

11 – Build a Home for a Veteran

The Building Homes for Heroes Foundation is a non-profit organization that builds or modifies homes for injured veterans. Consider volunteering your time and skills, or making a donation to support their mission.

A brown paper bag with "support local businesses" written on it, hanging by twine against a blurred american flag background. a small tag with the flag design is attached to the bag.

12 – Shop and Buy at Veteran-owned Businesses

If you’re planning to make any purchases on Memorial Day, consider supporting veteran-owned businesses. This is a great way to show your support and appreciation for their service and sacrifices. This is a fantastic resource to find local shops and restaurants near you.

A well-kept american home with a porch featuring white columns, an american flag hanging prominently, and lush green landscaping with pink flowers.

13 – Fly the American Flag

Displaying the American flag is a traditional way to honor those who have served in the military. Your family can fly your flag at half-staff until noon, then raise it to full staff for the rest of the day.

Five young adults sitting on a bench, engaged with their smartphones, surrounded by illustrations of smiley faces, hearts, and a sun, depicting a fun and social atmosphere.

14 – Share Your Gratitude on Social Media

Use your social media account to share your appreciation and gratitude for those who have served our country. You can share a photo of yourself with a veteran, a family member who served, or grab an image from Canva to share online with your heartfelt message.

A red pair of scissors cuts through a collection of colorful discount coupons offering various savings and percentage off deals.

15 – Clip Some Coupons

Did you know that you can send coupons to active-duty soldiers overseas? Through the Overseas Coupon program, you can help military families save money by sending them your unused or unwanted coupons. Current soldiers, retirees, and military families can use these coupons on base at the commissary up to six months after their expiration date.

A woman and a boy pack a box with toys as a dog watches, surrounded by packing materials and labels on a table.

16 – Put Together A Care Package

One of the best organizations to send care packages to soldiers overseas is Operation Gratitude. You can choose to donate funds, items for a care package, or even write letters of appreciation. This is a small gesture that can bring a lot of joy and support to those serving our country. And its a fantastic way to invite your children to donate their own toys and books to help the cause.

A happy family with two children enjoying a movie night at home, laughing together while sharing popcorn on a couch.

17 – Watch a Patriotic Film Together

There are some incredible movies that honor the sacrifices and bravery of our military. Gather your family and friends together to watch a patriotic film, such as:

With that being said, most war movies are for mature audiences. If you’re looking for family-friendly movies, you might want to consider watching:

Red, white, and blue layered Jell-O dessert.

18 – Bake A Yummy Treat

Sometimes something as simple as a baked apple pie or a loaf of bread can bring comfort and warmth to families of the fallen soldiers. Consider baking a delicious treat to share with a widow or family member of a fallen soldier. This small gesture can show that you are thinking of them and their loved ones’ sacrifice.

Additionally, you can also donate items such as books, baby supplies, and more to soldiers and their family members overseas through organizations like Soldier’s Angels.

A daytime view of the white house with the u.s. flag flying above, showcasing the iconic white facade, columns, and a fountain surrounded by vibrant red flowers.

19 – Take A Virtual Tour of the White House

I hope you take time to thank those who made the ultimate sacrifice for your freedom and learn everything you can about the great nation of American. Touring the White House is a great way to learn more about our government and history. Plus, now you don’t even have to leave your own home! The White House offers virtual tours online for free, making it accessible for everyone to explore this iconic building.

A family with two young children and their parents are reading a book together on the floor in a cozy, sunlit room.

20 – Read About American History

Expand your knowledge about American history by reading books or articles on important events and figures that have shaped our nation. Some suggestions include:

Reading about American history not only helps us understand our past, but also allows us to reflect on the progress we have made as a nation and the work that still needs to be done. It is important to honor the sacrifices of those who came before us by striving for a better future.

A person grilling burgers and hot dogs, holding a plate with a burger topped with a mini american flag, signaling a patriotic celebration, possibly for july 4th.

21 – Host A Block Party or Family BBQ

Why not celebrate your love for America by bringing your community or family together for a block party or BBQ? It’s a great opportunity to bond with your neighbors, meet new people, and enjoy some delicious food. Plus, you can incorporate some patriotic elements into the event such as playing American-themed games or having a red, white, and blue dress code.

A wooden cornhole game board on grass, featuring a hole and scattered blue and red bean bags on and around it, symbolizing outdoor recreational activity.

22 – Lawn Games Party

Nothing says long weekend than playing a game of cornhole, horseshoes, or bocce ball with friends and family. Set up a tournament or just play for fun while enjoying some snacks and drinks. Don’t forget to decorate your lawn with American flags and other patriotic decorations.

A family of 5 children going camping with sleeping bags inside their tent.

23 – Go Camping

Memorial Day is the kickoff camping season, so why not take advantage of the long weekend and spend some time in nature? Whether you prefer tent camping or RVing, gather your loved ones and head to a nearby campground. It’s a great way to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other while enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors.

A family enjoys a music session together: a woman leans over a smiling man in a wheelchair holding a guitar, as a young boy plays the harmonica beside them.

24 – Learn to Play A Patriotic Song

Tickle the ivories (play the piano) or strum your guitar and learn to play a patriotic song like “God Bless America” or “America the Beautiful.” You can even gather your musically-inclined friends and family for a jam session. Music is a powerful way to express our love for our country.

A guitar and hat next to a microphone.

25 – Play Patriotic Music

If you’d rather not scare people with your upcoming talent of singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” then consider making a patriotic playlist to play throughout the weekend. Cue up songs like “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen or “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus for a fun and energetic vibe.

A bucket with stars and a red and white flag.

26 – Decorate Your Home

Dust off your red, white, and blue decor and give your home a patriotic makeover. Hang up American flags, buntings, and banners around your house to show off your pride for your country. You can also get creative with DIY decorations using materials like mason jars, paint, and ribbon.

A flag drawn on a blackboard.

27 – Create Patriotic Chalk Art

I love this time of year when summer is just around the corner, and sidewalks are filled with colorful chalk art. Gather your family and friends to create a patriotic masterpiece on the sidewalk or driveway. You can draw American flags, fireworks, or any other patriotic scene you can think of.

A group of cupcakes with red white and blue frosting.

28 – Bake Patriotic Treats

No holiday celebration is complete without some delicious treats. Get creative in the kitchen and whip up some red, white, and blue desserts like flag cakes, fruit kabobs, or star-shaped cookies. You can also host a patriotic bake-off with your friends and see who can come up with the most creative treat.

A wreath made of red poppies with black centers and green leaves, displayed as a symbol of remembrance and honor.

29 – Make a Memorial Day Poppy Wreath

Honor the men and women who have served our country by creating a Memorial Day poppy wreath. You can use artificial or real poppies, along with other patriotic decorations like ribbons and flags, to create a beautiful tribute for your home.

A white marble tomb inscribed with "here rests in honored glory an american soldier known but to god," featuring a wreath with red and white flowers and a red ribbon on a stand in the foreground.

30 – Watch the National Wreath Laying Ceremony

Tune in to the National Wreath Laying Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to pay your respects to those who have sacrificed their lives for our country. This event takes place on Memorial Day and is a powerful reminder of the true meaning behind this holiday. You’ll find more information about this event here.

A joyful family of four celebrating the fourth of july outdoors with a picnic. two adults and two children, all smiling, are holding american flags and enjoying festive foods.

How Do You and Your Family Celebrate Memorial Day?

I teach my children this is not a free day of fun and games.

They’ll have fun with our family BBQ of course, but they’re taught who purchased this day for them and the high price these men and women paid.

Every year I educate my children about the significance of Memorial Day, discussing the history and sacrifices made by our military members. It’s important for us to remember the true purpose of this holiday and honor those who have served our country.

Then we spend the day as a family hiking (if the weather is good) and joining our community’s Memorial Day parade. We also make sure to attend a local memorial service or ceremony to pay our respects and show our gratitude.

A pair of worn military boots with dog tags resting on green grass, with an american flag in the blurred background.

What Are People Supposed To Do on Memorial Day?

The gift of Memorial Day is yours. Someone you’ve never met laid down their life for you to have it.

On Memorial Day, I hope we all take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by our military members and their families. We can show our appreciation by attending memorial services or ceremonies, visiting gravesites of fallen soldiers, or participating in events that honor their service.

So, whatever you choose to do on Memorial Day, take a moment to remember and honor those brave men and women who have given their lives for our country. We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid. Let’s also not forget the families of the fallen soldiers, who have also made sacrifices for our freedom.

A young boy, held by his father in military fatigues, smiles while waving a small american flag. they are indoors with a bright, airy background.

What Is The Most Popular Activity People Participate In On Memorial Day?

Not surprisingly the most popular activity on Memorial Day is visiting cemeteries and attending memorial services. It’s a way to pay our respects to the fallen soldiers and their families, and to show our appreciation for their sacrifices.

Many people also take part in parades, which are organized by local communities across the country. Parades often include marching bands, military personnel, veterans’ organizations, and community groups.

Others choose to spend the day with family and friends, enjoying outdoor activities such as picnics, barbecues, and sporting events. These gatherings also provide opportunities to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day and share stories about loved ones who have served in the military.

American flags placed next to uniform white gravestones in a curved arrangement at a military cemetery, symbolizing honor and remembrance.

What Are Some Other Ways To Honor The Fallen Soldiers?

There are many ways to honor the fallen soldiers besides attending memorial services and visiting cemeteries.

Some ideas include:

  • Flying the American flag at half-staff until noon, as a sign of respect for those who have died while serving in the military.
  • Observing a moment of silence at 3:00 pm local time, which is designated as the National Moment of Remembrance.
  • Donating to organizations that support veterans and their families, such as the Wounded Warrior Project.
  • Volunteering at a local VA hospital or military cemetery to help decorate graves or assist with events.
  • Participating in the “Wreaths Across America” program, which lays wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers during the holiday season.

No matter how your family celebrates together, it’s important to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day and honor those who have given their lives for our country.

Final Thoughts of Family Time on Memorial Day

President Ronald Regan once said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by way of inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. And those in world history who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

As we gather with family and friends on Memorial Day, let’s take a moment to remember those who have sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom. Let’s also cherish the time we have with our loved ones and make meaningful memories together.

We can honor the fallen soldiers by living our lives in a way that honors their sacrifice and upholds the values of freedom, republic, and justice for all. Happy Memorial Day!

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