Bringing Veterans Day to Life in the Eyes of Children
Veterans Day marks our gratefulness and respect for all of those who have served in our military and in the defense of our nation. It is a major point of pride for all of those who have sacrificed or have loved someone who has.
As Veterans Day isn’t an occasion with a major lead-up period or a gift-giving opportunity, children might not immediately recognize how significant and special the day truly is. Children’s knowledge of Veterans Day might also vary with the number of close relatives they know who have served in the military.
We have compiled a list of activities that you can use to teach your children about the importance of Veterans Day. These age-appropriate games, crafts and lessons can help children appreciate both their neighbors in the military and what it means to be an American.
Child-Friendly Commemoration and Appreciation
- Write a “thank-you list”.
Help your child write a list of things they love about living in America. Explain that some kids in other parts of the world can’t do those things, and it’s thanks to veterans that we are free to enjoy the things and activities we love.
- Attend a parade.
Cities and towns of all sizes hold Veterans Day parades and celebrations, bringing the true spirit of sacrifice and patriotism to life. See if there is a celebration that is going on relatively near your home and take your child to attend. Remember to be present and observant throughout!
When you leave the parade with your child, talk about what you experienced and how it made you feel. Make sure to talk about your favorite parts and your least favorite parts of the parade, which will help cement the occasion in your child’s mind.
- Write and color a thank-you card for a veteran you know.
While you may not have any close relatives that have served in the military, it would be very surprising if you didn’t know anyone serving, or that has served, in one of the branches of the armed forces. Help your child color and decorate a thank you card and mail it together.
If you really cannot think of anyone in your close proximity that has served, there is a multitude of resources that will connect you with veterans or active duty service members. You have endless opportunities to brighten someone’s day—both your child’s, and the recipient of their card.
- Take a veteran you love out to lunch (or coffee).
If you do have a veteran that you feel comfortable spending an extended period of time around, invite them for lunch, coffee, or ice cream with you and your child. Help your child think of questions in advance to ask their veteran friend, which will help them converse, especially with a big age difference. Both parties are certain to get quite a bit out of the experience.
- Visit a veterans’ memorial near you and have your child pick out flowers
Though this may not be an activity that would be appropriate for younger children, taking flowers to a veterans’ memorial helps children understand the importance of sacrifice and the impact it has on our way of life. After you visit, you could ask your children about the memorial, how they felt and what they would like to say to a veteran if they met one.
Your Children, Veterans Day, and You
The best way to lead children to understanding is through example. Children are always watching and imitating what they see, so your behavior in regards to veterans and Veterans Day will also help inform their own actions. Be present and be thankful!
At Vay-Schleich & Meeson, we prioritize services and moments of gratitude for those who have faithfully served our nation through the armed forces. Ask about how we can include military appreciation in your pre-planning or in the arrangements for a beloved veteran you know.