May & Memorial Day with the Kids

13 May 2015

BY: DebraHartley

Inspiration / School

by Debra Hartley

The school year is coming to a close. This statement either strikes joy or terror into the heart of the reader. Joy if you are a kid and terror for mom – how to keep them occupied, happy & build memories this summer?

toddler-508666_1280To many of us, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer and conveys images of an idyllic day on a Hawaiian beach or barbecuing with friends and family. Water balloon fights, fireworks and camping… Just the words trigger memories for me. But that is not all it is. How do we convey the real meaning – commemoration of the men and women who have died in war or in service to our country – to our kids?

The simplest way to teach our kids the importance of these “holidays” is to start with what it means to us as parents, to our family and to our country. If you have lost a family member in service to our country, make sure that they know as much as possible about them; they will hold onto that and remember more than we realize. Share your heart and appreciation for freedom with them and they will come to understand the real meaning, not just a fun “holiday”.

While it is a fun day off from work, school & everyday life – let’s take a little time before heading to the beach or barbecue and focus on the real purpose of Memorial Day. Hawaii has a deep appreciation for Memorial Day and many opportunities to celebrate that as a family. Get your kids involved in deciding how they would like to commemorate this day; they would love to be part of building a new family tradition.

  • Visit Punchbowl Cemetary – The National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific – for the formal ceremony and decoration of soldiers’ graves with leis and wreaths.
  • One of the most unique events in Honolulu is the Lantern Floating Ceremony at Ala Moana Beach Park at Magic Island. This beautiful Buddhist ceremony provides free lanterns for people to write a message to a loved one and float in the water. The lit candles floating in the water are an incredible sight. Do arrive early if you plan to attend the ceremony as it is very popular.
  • Attend a Memorial Day parade. Some neighborhoods have their own smaller parade and may offer a way to get involved in volunteering before the holiday even arrives.
  • Visit a veteran’s hospital with gifts. We have many veterans in Hawaii who would be happy to share their stories and their hearts with your kids.
  • You and your children could make a patriotic gift to take to one of the veterans events or hospitals.
  • Take the family to the Pearl Harbor Memorial and the USS Arizona Memorial. This may be more impactful for your older children who can understand the depth of meaning that this memorial holds.
  • Teach your kids in a fun way – with a scavenger hunt!
  • Connect with our active military at the various bases and talk to your kids about how they would like to show their appreciation.

No matter how old or young we are, it is never too late to learn to appreciate all of the freedoms we have that were paid for by the courage and lives of our military. We hope that you have a safe and happy holiday and enjoy this reminder of how blessed we are to live in America!