Memorial Day was created to honor the fallen dead of our armed forces from the Revolutionary War through the current conflicts of our times. It is an annual observance to show our gratitude to those who gave their lives for our many freedoms. One very meaningful way you, your family and friends can show your appreciation is to learn more about the people who made these sacrifices for our liberties. And one very meaningful way you can learn these things is by taking a Memorial Day military museum walkabout.
Most communities and states have many military museums, battlefield parks, national cemeteries, or exhibits about our honored fallen veterans. The pictures I am using in this post are of the Virginia War Memorial and its Education Center–this museum is here in my hometown, but it is just one example of the many museums nearby with so much from which to learn. This memorial commemorates the service and sacrifice of Virginians from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf Conflict–the names of the individuals we lost are engraved here. But you will surely find similar memorials in your area.
Reading the names of those who were lost in this large outdoor temple with walls of stone and glass is quite moving. The huge twenty-three-foot statue, entitled “Memory,” can be seen from all angles of the Virginia War Memorial and from the road and river. The figure is supposed to keep a constant vigil over the names of the Virginians who died in battle, and the eternal flame at its base represents everlasting patriotism.
The Paul and Phyllis Galanti Education Center has many exhibits showing visitors examples of uniforms, weapons and lifestyle items of the men who gave their lives for us. You can see how Virginia soldiers lived and fought, what they wrote home about to their families, and so much more in this invaluable addition to the Memorial. Many museums have interactive activities geared toward children of which you can take advantage. The more you learn about our honored dead, the more you will want to know, and if you approach this learning as a family project, you will all benefit.
Taking your family and friends to see some of these museums, memorials, statues, or national cemeteries can be an especially educational experience for all. You might begin a tradition of visiting a different memorial each year. Read up on the museum before you go so you will be sure to see everything. Call ahead or check online to be certain the museum is open on the holiday weekend. Be prepared to answer some hard questions your children may ask about the war deaths of some many. But rather than avoid dealing with the difficult issues, face them with your children. Connect them with veteran family members who might be able to offer some different perspectives.
You might want to eat a special brunch together before you head to the museum, or you may want to enjoy a special lunch out after you’ve toured the exhibits. However you plan your Memorial Day military museum walkabout, you will return home with full hearts! Enjoy!