Veterans Day is a very special holiday where we honor those who served in the armed forces to protect the freedoms our country holds dear. Teaching kids the importance of respecting and honoring the sacrifices these brave men and women give is an integral part of appreciating what a wonderful country they have the honor of living in. Knowing how to teach them in a way they can understand can be tricky. Still, there are fun and meaningful ways to encourage your children to learn and appreciate the importance of Veterans Day.
What is Veterans Day?
To teach your kids about Veterans Day, you must know what and why we celebrate it. A veteran is any soldier who served in a military branch and received a discharge that was anything other than less than honorable. On November 11, 1918, Germany signed an armistice with the allies that effectively ended WW1. Ever since that day, Americans have celebrated the soldiers who fight for our freedom. Initially named Armistice Day and declared a national holiday in 1938, President Eisenhower changed the name to Veterans Day in 1954. Changing the name allowed us to honor all veterans, not only those who served in the First World War. Now that you know what a veteran is and how Veterans Day originated, here are some tips for teaching your kids about Veterans Day.
Attend A Parade
Parades are a fun and exciting way to introduce your kids to the idea of honoring veterans. They will have the chance to see and interact with men and women in uniform while building a sense of pride that only a parade can develop. You can add another layer by having your child “interview” a veteran; have them make a list of questions they can ask them related to their time in service and their life after. Learning how serving their country affected veterans’ lives can help them feel grateful for their sacrifices.
Visit A Veterans Museum Or Memorial
Museums are an excellent place for kids to learn about our countries rich history and the men and women who helped protect it. Seeing paraphernalia that belonged to real people can make an abstract thought of veterans into real-life experiences. Museums bring the past to life and can intrigue children’s imaginations, and give them a sense of pride in where they’ve come from. The Oregon Military Museum in Portland has terrific exhibits that will entertain your whole family as your kids learn and discover why Veterans Day is so important. Memorials are another excellent way for kids to see the price veterans pay to protect their freedom. Visit the Vietnam Veterans Of Oregan Memorial, where you can take a few hours and have a picnic or take a walk while you discuss the monuments and what they mean to each of us.
Read A Book
Take a trip to the library to find engaging books that teach your kids about the importance of Veterans Day. The Portland Public Library contains age-appropriate material that your kids will enjoy reading. After they’ve finished their books, take some time to discuss what they read. Invoke their critical thinking by asking them how they believe it applies to their everyday lives and how they can find ways to honor veterans on Veterans Day and every day of the year.
Talk About Freedom And Sacrifice
The saying “freedom isn’t free” is embodied in our veterans, and we celebrate that on Veterans Day. Teaching kids what freedom means and understanding the sacrifices that go hand in hand helps them understand and appreciate the day’s importance. Sit down with your kids and start a discussion by explaining that soldiers often sacrifice time with friends and family, everyday comforts your kids are used to, and sometimes give their lives. Ask questions that will get them thinking more deeply on the subject, which will help them better understand how it affects their lives. A few great questions to ask are:
- What do you think freedom means?
- What freedoms do you enjoy most?
- What freedoms would you miss if you lost them?
Veterans Day is a holiday where we honor the brave men and women who ensure our freedom. It’s important to teach our kids why we celebrate and the sacrifices that soldiers gave and still give every day. By attending a parade, visiting a museum or memorial, having them read books about veterans, and talking about freedom and sacrifices, you can help teach your kids about Veterans Day.