Memorial Day marks the remembrance of all US soldiers who died in service. We’ve rounded up some of the best Memorial Day facts, traditions, crafts, and activities so you can lead your classroom in honoring our fallen heroes on this special day.
Memorial Day Shareable Facts
- Memorial Day always occurs on the last Monday in May.
- Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day. It was a day set aside to decorate the graves of US soldiers who died during the Civil War.
- The first organized Decoration Day observance occurred in 1866.
- In the early 20th century, Decoration Day became a day to observe the fallen US soldiers of any war.
- The name was formally changed to Memorial Day in 1967, and it became an official federal holiday in 1971.
- Memorial Day is often confused with Veteran’s Day; but the latter is a day to recognize and appreciate all who have served in the military, while Memorial Day is to honor and remember those who died in military service.
Memorial Day Traditions
There are several time-honored traditions associated with Memorial Day. Government offices and other places that display the American flag fly it at half-mast until noon, after which it is raised to full mast. Taps, the military bugle call that is played at soldiers’ and veterans’ funerals, is played at Memorial Day observances. Volunteers from military organizations, churches, and civic groups place flowers on the graves in national cemeteries. Red poppies became a Memorial Day symbol in the early 1900s, and today they are worn as a symbol of sacrifice made by the men and women who served and died for their country during a time of war.
Crafts and Activities
Patriotic crafts featuring American flags; stars; or anything red, white, and blue are a great way to observe Memorial Day. Making paper flowers, especially red poppies, is ideal for this holiday as well. DLTK’s Crafts for Kids is an excellent resource for Memorial Day craft ideas. Enchanted Learning maintains a Memorial Day page with links to worksheets, quizzes, poems, and activities. Invite a historian or veteran to talk with your class about the history of Memorial Day or, if possible, arrange a field trip to a national cemetery or military museum. If that’s not an option, there are excellent virtual tours available online, such as the National Museum of the Marine Corp’s interactive Virtual Experience page. You could also show online videos, such as the Veteran’s History Project or the History Channel’s Memorial Day. Just be sure to screen them first to determine whether they’re age-appropriate for your class.