Like most holidays calling into memory those who have given a great sacrifice, Veterans Day can be a hard day to explain to young kids. Through the parades, fireworks and days off school, the meaning of the day can become lost unless parents force the point home.
Veterans Day is observed every Nov. 11 in coordination with the end of World War I, when the combatants signed the Treaty of Versailles. Before 1954, the day more clearly reflected this origin, as its name was Armistice Day. The change gave the federally recognized holiday a larger scope by celebrating not just those who served in the first World War, but anyone who served the country at any time.
Veterans Day is similar to other holidays where solemnity and reflection are the norm in that it can be tough to translate parades and days off of school to the more serious nature of the day.
If the entire family has off school and work, consider a trip to a war memorial. You might think these fit more for Memorial Day, but the sites offer a great chance for reflection and the perfect venue for you to have a talk with your kids about what it means to serve in the military. There are monuments and memorials all over the country, with a big concentration in and around Washington, D.C. If your family has any veterans, invite them for the trip and talk to them with your kids about what Veterans Day means to them.
Use the occasion to get together with any family members who are veterans. Even if there is not a memorial nearby, it is a good time to spend quality time with them and let them know you appreciate their service.
Consider a trip to a specialty museum. Depending on your city, there can be many historic museums dedicated to those who served in the military. Battleship New Jersey is easily accessible from Philadelphia and can provide the entire family a glimpse into one of the country’s most decorated naval vessels.
Parades are popular for Veterans Day. If all else fails, consider seeking out your local parade. These offer a little more levity to the day’s true meaning, but can go a long way to helping your kids associate fun and meaningful memories with the day, especially if you stick around for any veteran services that follow many parades.
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