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Decoration Day with the Family


Summer vacations are coming! School will soon be over and kids will be able to play outside. Summer holidays are coming, too! Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, and more! What does your family do to celebrate in the summer? Do you have picnics? Do you go to a park? Do you like to play baseball in the summer?

The first summer holiday is on May 26. It is called Memorial Day. Many people have the day off of work and school. They celebrate with a picnic or a barbeque. It’s the beginning of summer fun with our families! Memorial Day has been a holiday for 145 years. That’s a long time! At first, Memorial Day looked a bit different than it does today. It was a day to be serious and to remember important people.


Memorial Day began in 1868 as a day called Decoration Day. This was right after the American Civil War. Over 600,000 soldiers had died during that war. The families of those soldiers did not want anyone to forget what happened. On Decoration Day, these families went to the graveyard with flowers and flags. They decorated the graves of their soldiers who had died.  decoration day da photo 1

Many small towns had parades. Veterans, men who had been in the army or navy, would carry flags and banners. Children walked in these parades carrying flowers.American_Patriotic_Art_Card_Memorial_Day-005

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Sometimes, important men like the mayor or governor would give a speech. Bands would play music and people would sing songs about their country.

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Today, we honor all fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, not just those who died in the Civil War.

American_Art_Vintage_Memorial_Day_Souvenir_Card-01Memorial Day became a day to spend thinking about all of your family. We remember family members who are gone and celebrate family members who are here. Families still go to cemeteries to remember soldiers in their family that have died.

They also spend time with their living family, having picnics and parades and baseball games together. It is still a day to think about important people and remember. And also a day to celebrate and have fun together. How does your family celebrate Memorial Day? Do you decorate the graves of any family members who served in the military? Do you spend extra time with your family that weekend?

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You can see what Decoration Day might have looked like over 100 years ago by visiting Living History Farms on Saturday, May 24. Historical Interpreters will act out a Decoration Day speech and parade at 1:00 pm. Museum guests can walk in the parade and listen to the speeches about Civil War soldiers. At the Decoration Day ceremony, everyone will sing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. This was a very popular song for soldiers and their families. You can hear what it sounds like here. What is your favorite song about your country?


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There will also be a historic baseball game on Saturday, May 24 at 1:30 pm. We hope families will come and spend time together then. If you visit for the baseball game, you will need to know the rules! They were a little different in the 1870s.

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