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Teaching Kids About the Meaning of Memorial Day


For many kids, Memorial Day is just another three-day weekend celebrated with family bar-b-cues, a visit to the lake or pool, watching the latest action movie or any other of the numerous ways people spend the beginning of warm weather and a holiday. This year it falls on May 29th.

What is often lost in the celebrations is the meaning of Memorial Day and why it is an important reminder of sacrifice and service. Talking to your child about the history of Memorial Day and what it stands for can help them learn about the immeasurable cost of the freedoms they enjoy.

The preamble to Memorial Day was Decoration Day, established in 1868 – three years after the Civil War ended. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Local ceremonies were also held across the northern and southern parts of the United States, honoring union and confederate soldiers.  It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.

In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May.

In December 2000,  “The National Moment of Remembrance Act” was passed to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance asks all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

Memorial Day doesn’t have to be only a day of remembrance for our veterans, but also a day to think about and celebrate the lives of family and friends that have been lost.

Most children learn why we celebrate Christmas and other religious holidays. They learn early about what the July 4th holiday is all about. Many a child’s first play is the re-enactment of the pilgrims and Native American Indians gathering to share food on Thanksgiving. But Memorial Day is sometimes given a vague description or is scrambled in commercials promoting holiday savings.

Enjoy this 3-day holiday break from the stress of school and work but also take a little time to talk about the meaning of Memorial Day with your child. And perhaps, stop for a moment of silence at 3:00 pm in remembrance of those who have lost their lives because of their service to our country.

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Daily Dose

Don't Let Christmas Chaos Overwhelm You

It is the night before Christmas and I think I am feeling like many mothers (and fathers) out there, overwhelmed!! Each year I try to plan to have a “calm” holiday with an organized gift list, and everything wrapped early so that our family may spend quiet time together today in anticipation of Christmas.

Why is it that I have failed again? Not only are we in the midst of Christmas preparations, but we also have a wedding in just seven days. If you could see my “office” right now, you would be surprised that I could even blog today. The top of my desk is strewn with journal articles, rehearsal dinner seating charts, year-end CME (continuing medical education), and lots of ribbons and gift enclosure tags. I am not even sure what goes with what; I hope I don’t send in the seating chart for my CME hours! I am also decorating the mantels with fresh garland, arranging flowers and trying to keep the new puppy (old post) from eating the Christmas ornaments and the fresh greenery. While I am doing all of that I must tell you that the sons are either asleep, watching TV or working from home and “cannot be bothered”. It is at this time each year that I know I have “FAILED” as a mother. The visions of family singing carols beside the tree that they helped decorate, are a figment of my imagination. This is when I think it must be different if you have daughters. Do girls rally to help their mothers with the preparation of Christmas? Do they come and ask to help decorate the tree (if they are older than eight), or are they dying to learn to tie a bow on a gift? About this time while I am in a major reflective mood, a precious patient of mine who is now a freshman in college, drops by to deliver a coffee cake and at the same time admires the berries that I am using to decorate. It must be a different world with girls. So, on this Christmas Eve, I wish that I could tell you “all is calm”, but I think I still have a lot to get done before I sleep tonight. I am sure that mothers and fathers everywhere feel the same way, and that is what is wonderful about parenting. We are all in this together. By Christmas morning it will somehow all get finished and the family will get to gather together to open gifts, have Christmas breakfast or lunch or dinner and hopefully appreciate how fortunate we are to be a family. For those precious moments it does seem “perfect’ and I am thankful for that. I will take many pictures to remember these times together. I wish you a Christmas morning of memories after a chaotic week.  Merry Christmas.

Daily Dose

Accidents Can Happen Any Time, Even on Holidays

Well, Thanksgiving evening and I am going to write really quickly about “normal” family days.

As everyone knows, we have an approaching wedding and we now have a son who “does” two Thanksgiving events with soon to be in-laws. The eldest son was nice enough to invite his younger brother to join him for drive to the country for Thanksgiving lunch and some “shooting” on the ranch. While they headed out for Thanksgiving lunch, I was at home preparing Thanksgiving dinner for our side of the family. Perfect day!! So… about mid-afternoon we get a phone call from eldest son. “Hi Mom, everyone is okay”, but the youngest has had an accident and has lacerated his brow while at the ranch and it looks like it needs some stitches”. The youngest has also previously had a pretty serious dog bite to his face about 8 years ago, and still has scars to show for it. This time it is in his brow line and it is from the “scope” on the rifle. Can you tell that we are not a hunting family? Of course I am hugely relieved that he is OK, they are going to stay and eat lunch, have put ice and a “butterfly” on it, and will be home in several hours. I continue to cook while calling all of my doctor friends, and forwarding them a picture of his injury, (what did we do before emails and phones with cameras?) So now, while I thought I would sit down and blog on a topical subject, I am actually clearing the table, and heading to the plastic surgeons to get the “baby” son’s face stitched. This whole afternoon actually makes me reflect on how fortunate we are that he only needs stitches, and how many accidents “lurk” around every corner. I am thankful for good friends, and good doctors.  He will be fine, and we will all sit down for dessert after we get back. I hope everyone has had a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. Next week back to business!  I guess I will get to take out the stitches! That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again soon.

Daily Dose

Elf on the Shelf

1:00 to read

“Tis the season”, and many of the families I care for have gotten out their “Elf on the Shelf” to help keep the season as merry and harmonious as possible. I think “TEOTS” is genius, as it is a fun way to use positive reinforcement during the holidays as behavior modification.  That elf needs to stay around a bit longer…but then it would lose the appeal.  The anticipation of the elf arriving plays a major role don’t you think?  


With the arrival of the elf I get to hear all of the cute family elf stories during the month of Dec. I also noticed that “TEOTS” has some new “gadgets” and outfits to add to the fun, such as a zip line to swing from and suctions boots so he/she can climb up walls. Ingenious right? Surely they will soon have an array of elf outfits so the elf can have some choices to wear during zip lining.


During the last year there was also a lot of discussion about what our children were hearing on the news and during presidential debates etc. It doesn’t matter your political affiliation, children were picking up on a lot of what was going on.  Even children whose parents were paying attention to all of the bullying during the debates and atrocious sound bites on the news by limiting TV and electronics told me that their children still overheard things. They were concerned about the messages that both candidates were sending…especially to children.  


So…when one of my families took out “TEOTS”  their son, who is almost 3, decided it was the year to name him. “Of course you can name your elf they said”.  The next day he announced that the was looking for the elf and asked his mother, “where is Donald Trump?”. She was a bit confused…until he returned holding the the elf and proudly announced, “ I found The Donald”!!


Out of the mouths of babes. More elf stories this month for sure!!



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No tech summer: enjoy the outdoors!

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