Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer but most importantly, the day to honor those who died while serving in the United States military.
Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971 and is celebrated on the last Monday of May. In 1865, a group of black people who had been previously enslaved organized a memorial event for Union soldiers who had been killed during the civil war. They gave them proper burials and organized a memorial march. The first national memorial day was held at Arlington Cemetary in 1868. The day was called Decoration Day as the graves of soldiers killed during the war were decorated with American flags. After World War II, the day was expanded to include all soldiers killed while serving our country.
Make sure your kids understand the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day (and I’ll add in Labor Day since so many just focus on that its a 3-day weekend holiday forgetting the reason behind the National holiday)
Because the end of May is when the temperatures start warming up and many schools have let out, The 3 day weekend has also become a celebration of the start of summer with pool parties, BBQs, and trips to the beach. The actual first day of summer is June 20th (for the northern hemisphere) coinciding with the summer solstice which takes place between June 20-22.
This post contains affiliate links. Our blog participates in Amazon and other affiliate programs where we earn a small commission if you purchase from those links. There is no additional cost to you.
Observe Memorial Day with Teens
• Hang up an American flag.
• Attend a Memorial Day parade
• Visit a local Veterans Cemetery or Memorial. Many will have a special ceremony marking Memorial Day.
• Research your family history to find out if you have family members who were in the military, fought in wars, or died fighting for our country.
• Watch the National Memorial Day Wreath-laying and Observance program live-streamed from Arlington National Cemetery
• Participate in the National Moment of Remembrance. Pause for 1 minute in an act of national unity wherever we are at 3 PM local time on Memorial Day
Celebrating the Start of Summer with Teens
The 3-day weekend is the perfect time to celebrate the start of summer. Do spend some time also focusing on the Memorial Day holiday and what it means.
• Host a pool party for your teens. Order a bunch of fun pool floats and beach balls and have fun!
• Host a BBQ with a Hot Dog Bar. Set up a self-serve bar with all kinds of hot dog toppings. Have a variety of hotdogs to accommodate dietary preferences (beef, pork, vegan). Bonus – kids will serve themselves so you can sit back and relax!
- ketchup & mustard
- spicy mustard
- pickled peppers
- celery salt
- dill pickle slices
- cucumber slices
• If you haven’t already done so, make your family’s summer bucket list and plan out your summer. Teens may wish to also create their own Summer of Fun Bucket List.
• Head to the beach
• Go camping – take advantage of the 3-day weekend and head to the woods.