Yesterday many families hit the beach, had picnics and enjoyed the traditional start of summer fun. Sadly, many never mentioned the reason for the holiday: To honor those who have fallen while defending our right to enjoy each day of our lives as we wish — as Americans.
This generation of children and teenagers are in serious need of heroes. Surveys reveal that they often confuse pop stars and sports figures with true heroes - the people who sacrifice on behalf of someone else. If you forgot to truly celebrate Memorial Day, it's not too late to explain the difference to your children, and to finally discuss and honor those who fought so we might be free.
Many families have experienced the pain and pride that comes with losing someone in terrible wars in far-off lands. And, sadly, their service is often forgotten or lost as the years go by. If we are to raise children who appreciate the great American legacy of freedom and to recognize the type of person that deserves our utmost respect, then we must teach them to honor the honorable. Looking for those heroes in your own family can also connect your children to the past in such an intimate way that it inspires them to sacrifice for the futures.
If a relative of yours is one of the fallen, find their stories and share them with your children. We should also honor those who fought bravely and were lucky enough to make it home. Here is the brief story of how my husband and I honored my father-in-law and wrote his service on the hearts of our boys:
My father-in-law, Papa John, wore his very best poker face as he climbed carefully through the bomb-bay doors and into the fuselage, his grandsons scrambling in close behind. It had to have been an emotional moment. During World War II, Papa John had served with the 450th bomb group, a nose gunner in a B-24 Liberator like this one. Ever since learning about the Fantasy of Flight museum, a private collection boasting what may be the world's largest assemblage of airworthy vintage aircraft, it had been my husband's goal to bring his father and our children together in the museum's display hangars. Now, here they were — Granddad, son and grandsons, in a brief but not- to-be-forgotten moment.