Ancient Roots, Modern Holidays for Kids - Memorial Day Illustration

Ancient Roots, Modern Holidays for Kids - Memorial Day

For Kids: Today, in the United States, Memorial Day is celebrated the last Monday of May each year. Memorial Day is a day put aside to honor our military members who died serving our country.

Nearly all countries have a day put aside or some official way to remember their fallen heroes.

In Canada, in November each year, Memorial Day is called Remembrance Day honoring fallen Canadian heroes.

Thousands of years ago, the ancient Greeks and Romans held annual days of remembrance for their loved ones and their warriors. They held public festivals and put flowers on graves.

There is a difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. They both have to do with the military. The difference is:

  •  November: Veterans Day is a day to honor all the men and women who have served in the US armed forces at any time in US history. Veterans Day is on November 11th no matter what day of the week that falls on.

  • May: Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor those individuals in the US armed forces who lost their lives in service. Memorial Day is celebrated the last Monday in May.

  • May: There is one more military holiday in the United States, also celebrated in May. That is Armed Forces Day. Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May, and is the day Americans celebrate their active military.

Why so many holidays for the military? Think about it. What would we do without them?  Each time you meet a veteran or run into someone in a military uniform, be sure and say: "Thank you for your service." Most importantly, be sure to mean it.

Are policemen and firemen and first responders who died saving others honored on Memorial Day? No. They have memorial days of their own, but they are not federal holidays. If you disagree with this, you can always write your representatives in Congress. If you do write, be courteous, include your name, address, age, reason for writing, why you think your request is important, and ask them to consider your request. Ask is the key word. Requests are usually read, still, do not expect a personalized response.

Memorial Day Interactives and Games for Kids

For Teachers

Memorial Day Lesson Ideas from the NEA

Read, Think, Write: Teaching Memorial Day

Memorial Day (elcivics)