"Remember" the start of summer

Over the years, Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of summer and its true meaning is often lost in long weekend celebrations.  Memorial Day evolved from the original Decoration Day, first declared on May 30, 1868, to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War.  It was for the purpose of “strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country”.  By 1890, it was recognized by all the northern states.  The Southern states observed a separate day of remembrance until after World War I when the day was changed in remembrance of soldiers from all wars, not just the Civil War.  With passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971, it is now observed nationwide on the last Monday in May.

A symbol of remembrance has long been the poppy flower which is common along the edges of grain fields.  Poppy seeds can spread very far on the wind and may lay dormant for long periods of time, awakened by a disruption of the soil around them.  The spring of 1915 was an especially warm one and with the ground having been overturned with battle activity, poppies began springing up in war torn Europe.  The sight inspired Canadian soldier John McCrae to write his now famous poem In Flanders Field.

The poem would serve as inspiration for Moina Michael who came up with the idea to wear poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving our nation in war. After several years of tireless effort on Ms. Michael’s part, the poppy was finally adopted as the national emblem of Remembrance by the National American Legion in 1920 at its convention in Cleveland. Since, then poppies are sold each year in remembrance and to raise funds for the welfare and support of veterans and their families. 

Keep your patriotic momentum going with Flag Day on June 14th.  If you’d like to fly a flag at home, be sure to review your flag etiquette . Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the U.S. flag on that day in 1777.  The week of June 14th is National Flag week and citizens are urged to display their flag in celebration.  While not an official federal holiday, many civic organizations honor the occasion with parades and events.

Here are a couple of easy red, white and blue crafts that will keep you in a patriotic frame of mind through the Fourth of July.  A super easy decoration is a patriotic bunting or these individual hoops from Multiples and More.

For outdoor hanging, purchase the disposable plastic table cloths and cut into strips. When cutting your strips, keep in mind that you’ll want them to be about double their hanging length as you will be folding them in half and making a slipknot. A nice way to work on patterns with younger children. This project can also be done with fabric strips or even crepe paper streamers. Since crepe paper tears easily, knotting would have to be done with a gentle hand and may be more suitable for your tween or teen (and kept indoors).

A project with the same technique is bunting and here is a great picture tutorial from Craftaholic Anonymous. Not only can children work on patterns but also their fine motor skills with the knotting.  I even think they look prettier if your fabric strips are varying lengths, so it doesn't require any precision really.  

If you can’t get enough of the mason jar crafts, try this one from Kim at Today’s Creative Life - layer some colored rice and top off with a tealight.  This versatile craft can be done with any glass container on hand and with flowers instead of candles. For a floral display, pair a small vase with a larger glass container. Place the vase in the center and layer the rice around it in the larger container.  Fill the vase with water and flowers like carnations or roses. 

Kim's directions for colored rice: white rice, food coloring, rubbing alcohol, zip lock plastic bags, paper plates

·         Place your rice inside the ziplock baggie

·         Drop a few drops of rubbing alcohol inside with the rice

·         Drip a few drops of food coloring, depending on how intense you want your rice, into the baggie

·         Seal the baggie and mix around

·         Once your rice is fully coated, pour onto a paper plate and spread out.

·         Dry – I placed mine outside and it dried really quickly (about 10 min)

·         Pour inside your jars, place candle on top. (I would wait to light the candle in case the rubbing alcohol is still present.)

By all means celebrate the return of the summer season with friends and family, but do remember to observe the National Moment of Remembrance at 3pm on Memorial Day.  Every American is asked to pause for 1 minute in remembrance of our service men and women.

Many cemetaries rely on volunteers to place flags on the graves of service men and women for the Memorial Day observance.  If you’re looking for a more meaningful holiday activity, this may be something you and your family can do together. Contact your local cemetary to see what opportunities may be available.

Some military inspired reading:






The Wall, JF Bunting, Eve

I am Patriotic J323.65 S385I, Schuette, Sarah L.







Boys of Wartime: Daniel at the Siege of Boston 1776, JF Calkhoven, Laurie

Meet Molly:  An American Girl, JF American: Molly, Tripp, Valerie

Star-Spangled Crafts J745.5 R824S Ross, Kathy









Code Name Verity, YA Wein, Elizabeth

Hunt for the Bamboo Rat, YA Salisbury, Graham