Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

Memorial Day and kids

Simple ways to make Memorial Day meaningful for kids

The holiday is about more than barbecues. Here's how to start the discussion.

For most of us, Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer: time for warmer weather, longer days, barbecues with friends.

It actually has a much deeper meaning. Memorial Day is for remembering and honoring those who sacrificed their lives while serving in the armed forces. For many, it is also a day to honor family and friends who have died.

That can be a tough message to get across to young kids. The simplest place to begin is to spend some time talking to your kids about what the day means to you.

Talk to them about this being a time to remember those Americans who have fought to keep our country safe and free.

For many families, it’s not limited to honoring and remembering those in the armed forces but is also a time for some personal remembrance of family and friends who have been lost.

Topics like death and war can be hard concepts for kids to grasp.

Use your judgment about what is appropriate for your own kids’ age and maturity level. For the youngest, you can simply explain it as a day to say thank you to the people who keep our country safe. Even if they don’t fully grasp it, kids of any age can celebrate the day.

Also, many kids learn best through tangible experiences, so activities or events are a great way to introduce the idea of Memorial Day.

Ways to mark Memorial Day with kids

Here are a few ideas for honoring service members with kids this Memorial Day:

  • Visit a veterans’ cemetery. Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent is one option, as is Evergreen Washelli in Seattle. (Be sure to note social-distancing and crowd-control measures.)
  • Take cookies, books or movies to a nearby veterans’ hospital. Call first to see what, if any, contributions are appropriate and are being accepted.
  • Have your children create a card or picture to be sent to a soldier serving overseas, through organizations like Operation Gratitude and A Million Thanks.
  • Bake a patriotic-themed dessert.
  • Check your library for books on Memorial Day, or history in general, and read them together.
  • Take part in the National Moment of Remembrance. Each Memorial Day, the president issues a proclamation calling for a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m. local time. Say a prayer, light candles, sing a song, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, whatever you feel moved to do.

Memorial Day community events

  • Foothills Historical Museum is offering walking tours of the Buckley Cemetery from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
  • Lynnwood American Legion Post 37 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1040 sponsor a ceremony that includes music, laying of a wreath, and a rifle salute: 11 a.m. Monday, Veterans Park, 44th Avenue West and Veterans Way.
  • The Museum of Flight is bringing back its Memorial Day Ceremony as an in-person event this year. The Boeing Band will play patriotic music beginning at 11 a.m. Monday. A Memorial Day presentation and keynote address will be at noon, followed by a 2 p.m. screening of “To What Remains,” a film about efforts to find and recover the remains of the more than 80,000 Americans missing in action since WWII. (Note: The museum is offering free admission for active-duty military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve, plus up to 5 family members, through Labor Day, Sept. 5.)

More in Seattle’s Child:

NW Folklife is back in person for Memorial Day weekend, 2022

More in our family event calendar


Originally published in 2019; updated for 2022