Memorial Day was created to honor those who fought in the U.S. Civil War. Originally, it was called Decoration Day after the custom of laying flowers on soldiers’ graves. Today, Memorial Day is a national holiday in the United States. On this day, many people attend parades, spend time with family and friends, and remember those who have served our country.
Explore Discovery Education’s Memorial Day Content Collection for resources, lesson starters, strategies, and more to help students understand the meaning of the day.
Student Activity: Design a Memorial
Using the internet, the library, or by asking trusted adults, research if your town – or a town nearby – has a tribute to members of the armed forces, such as a veteran’s memorial statue, park, plaque, or sign. If your town has a memorial, think about:
- Where it is located,
- If you have ever visited it,
- How the families of service members feel when they see it, and
- Why you think that location was selected for the memorial (locations are often chosen because of their visibility, accessibility, and because they are in a place where townspeople tend to gather).
Here are some examples of well-known memorials in Washington, DC. What do these memorials have in common? What is different about them? How do you think visitors to these memorials are supposed to feel?
Create: Think about someone you admire that you’d like to honor. It can be anyone that has been important in your life – an aunt or uncle, grandparent, teacher – or someone that you’ve never met that you still look up to, such as an athlete, inventor, author, religious leader, politician, or world leader. You may even want to choose a fictitious person, such as a character in a book, play, or song.
Research: What would a memorial for that person look like? As you may have noticed in the memorials above and from memorials you’ve visited, elements of memorials often include:
- Information about when that person was born and if they passed away
- A brief description of why that person was important
- A quote or saying that person is known for
- An image or representation of what that person looked like
Design: Using materials available to you, such as paper, markers, clay, or dough, draw or design a memorial for the person you selected that includes the elements of memorials above. You can also create a digital memorial for that person, using a tool such as Discovery Education Board Builder, with images, video, and other media.
Location: Finally, memorials are often located in places that are meaningful – either because a person lived there, was influential there, and/or because it is a place that is accessible to many. Where would your memorial be located?