We tend to forget what Memorial Day is all about. It’s not about fireworks and barbecues, although those things are appropriate pieces of the spring holiday when celebrating and remembering our veterans. The best way to celebrate this important holiday, especially when children are involved, is to learn about, remember and celebrate our veterans.
The learning part is very important because kids won’t know the true meaning of the why they are celebrating if they don’t even know what a veteran is, or why we should care about them. Here are five trips that incorporate all the aspects of Memorial Day for the whole family.
Washington is the best possible place to visit on Memorial Day. There are multiple memorials within walking distance, and most of them have their own special event throughout Memorial Day weekend. TheDistrict.com has a list of the memorials, and About.com contains a list of special events and ceremonies at those memorials for Memorial Day.
After some learning and remembering, the family can take a load off for one of the best celebrations of veterans in the country by going to the National Memorial Day Parade at the corner of 7th St. and Constitution Avenue at 2 p.m., preceded by musical performances and ceremonies an hour earlier. And when you know who you are celebrating, it will be so much more meaningful and memorable.
Memorial Day is not only about remembering veterans who are still alive. Our country has a long history of battle, from the time we fought for independence until today, as we fight against terrorism.
There’s no better way to learn about the truly old-school veterans than at Colonial Williamsburg. You’ll not only learn about the battles and what veterans fought for, but how they lived way back when. The best part is that the experience is exceedingly interesting and fun! There is even a special Memorial Day Commemorative Program that takes place on Memorial Day at various sites throughout the Revolutionary City.
Honolulu has some of the most unusual ways to learn about and honor veterans. The gorgeous National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (also known as the Punchbowl Cemetery), located in an extinct volcano crater (Pu’owaina Crater) in Oahu, will have a formal ceremony that includes the decoration of soldiers’ graves with leis and flower wreaths. The ceremony continues with festivities that honor and celebrate veterans, and includes fireworks.
One of the most beautiful ceremonies in Honolulu on Memorial Day weekend is the Lantern Floating Ceremony at Ala Moana Beach. Pretty lanterns are floated on the water, some with special messages, in honor of those who have fallen in battle, as well as the lives of other loved ones lost. The scene is peaceful and serene, and a lovely way to remember those who are no longer with us.
Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta, GA
On the more entertaining side of the scale, the Memorial Day Weekend at Stone Mountain Park contains more than enough activities to keep the whole family occupied, while also celebrating veterans with patriotic events. Each day of fun is followed by the Lasershow Spectacular, which features a special salute to the troops, along with a fireworks finale.
Chicago has one of the largest Memorial Day parades in the country, beginning with a wreath laying ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Richard J. Daley Center Plaza on 50 West Washington Street. While in Chicago, you can also check out the National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM). One must-see piece in the collection is the Above and Beyond Memorial sculpture comprised of dog tags. This piece, as well as the museum as a whole, is one of the more unique ways to learn about and remember our nation’s veterans.