When people think about the military history of the United States, they often think back to movies they’ve seen or maybe history books they read in school. While most Americans have heard about the biggest conflicts in United States history, they may not fully appreciate or understand what our nation’s veterans have sacrificed. Veterans Day, an annual holiday that falls on November 11th, is an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the wars in which our veterans have served and to learn about what it really means to serve our country.
It’s especially valuable to educate younger generations that may be too young to understand the significance and impact of our historic combats such as World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. This Veterans Day, grandparents who have served our country or have had family members serve our country have a chance to share their experiences with children and grandchildren. When younger generations have an opportunity to learn about armed conflicts, especially from a family member they love, they gain a deeper appreciation of all the sacrifices veterans’ have made. That is why we’ve come up with a list of six activities to help grandparents celebrate Veterans Day with their children and grandchildren.
First, it is important to make sure that everyone understands the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, as many people confuse these two holidays because they both honor people who served in the military. Memorial Day is about honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and died in a war. Veterans Day, however, is about honoring people who served in the military but are still alive. Whereas Memorial Day focuses more on honoring this sacrifice in a solemn manner, Veterans Day is a time for celebration with family members and friends. Veterans Day is also a time to thank the men and women currently serving in our armed forces for their sacrifice and bravery.
One of the first ways that children and grandchildren can gain a greater appreciation for what it means to be a veteran is to interview someone that has served our country, whether they are a relative, neighbor or an acquaintance. Grandchildren can interview grandparents who have served, or grandparents and grandchildren can interview a veteran together. Children and grandchildren can ask more detailed and specific questions to get a vivid understanding of veterans’ experiences. This can include questions such as:
Grandparents and grandchildren may want to interview a few different veterans, either friends or relatives, to hear the stories of different people from different backgrounds serving our country in different ways. This will help younger people grasp the varied aspects of service and that veterans used a range of skills and expertise to protect our country.
Another simple way to appreciate Veterans Day is to sit down and watch a historic war documentary together. For example, Ken Burns has many excellent documentaries on World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. Documentaries combine real footage, photos and testimonials and ultimately create an engaging method for children and grandchildren to learn about what life was as a veteran. To make the experience more impactful, grandparents can prepare some questions for a discussion after the documentary, asking questions such as “What does service mean to you?” and “What are some of the things veterans did that you’re thankful for?”
The biggest way to show veterans and active members of the military your appreciation is with a simple “thank you.” One great activity for grandparents and their children and grandchildren is to write letters. You can write letters to veterans or you can write letters to active service members too. As we mentioned earlier, Veterans Day is a great opportunity to thank the men and women that are actively serving our country.
You can go one step further and send an entire care package to our armed forces though a program called Packages from Home Project. Those who serve on the frontlines love to know that people back home are thinking about them. When grandparents and children send a care package together, it creates an opportunity for grandparents that have served to share their wartime experiences and what a letter from home meant to them during their years of service.
One great way that children and grandchildren can honor veterans on Veterans Day is to attend to the Northern Virginia Veterans Parade in Manassas, Virginia. This is an annual tradition and a time for people to come together and honor the veterans who have served this country. Usually, all branches of the military are represented. The parade is divided into five divisions featuring the NRO Joint Service Color Guard, the Manassas City Joint Honor Guard, the American Legion, the Quantico Band, the BAE Systems Veterans, LGBTQ+ Veterans and the Hogs and Heroes Foundation. The parade starts on Prescott Avenue and continues down Center Street to the Harris Pavilion Lot.
This is a great way to not only give thanks to those who have served our country but will also let children and grandchildren see just what it means to fight a war on behalf of the United States. This is a team effort and this amazing show of support is incredibly important for honoring those who have put their life on the line.
The National Museum of the Marine Corps, which is only 11 miles away from Aspire Belmont Bay, is an activity that residents and their friends and family are sure to enjoy. The museum, located in Triangle, Virginia, is a tribute to all Marines—past and present—and takes visitors through numerous exhibits that travel through our country’s important combats. And nearby is Marine Corps Base Quantico, which was established along the banks of the Potomac River in 1917, which is only 13 miles from Aspire Belmont Bay.
Another museum that is not that far away is the National Museum of the United States Army in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Opening November 11, 2020, this is a museum that has a lot of rotating exhibits from all periods of the United States’ military history. The museum’s exhibits are broken up into specific conflicts (such as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the World Wars) and they feature everything from the stories of individual soldiers to restored equipment and newsreels from those periods.
When it comes to celebrating Veterans Day, the Cold War Museum in Warrenton, Virginia is another great museum to explore. The exhibits feature the Berlin Wall, information on Cold War spies, and stories from the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Honoring Veterans at Aspire Belmont Bay
At Aspire Belmont Bay, we believe in honoring veterans everyday but especially on Veterans Day. Honoring veterans is a value that many of the individuals in our Virginia retirement community share, many of whom celebrate veterans and active service members with family and friends.
If you are looking for a retirement community that is tailored to meet your lifestyle, Aspire Belmont Bay is a community where you’ll find a range of amenities, programs and dining options. Within this resort-style community, you’ll find the perfect setting to continue growing, socializing and living live to the fullest during your next chapter. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you!