Kids often see Veterans Day as a school holiday that adds an extra day to their weekend. That’s true, and it’s nice to have more time to enjoy together as a family.

However, it’s important to remember the reason for the leisure time. Why not put a spin on your Veterans Day plans to honor those who served our country while you enjoy the freedom they helped provide? 

One of the most obvious places to go on Veterans Day is to the cemetery. It’s a common tradition to pay your respects to family members who gave their lives in defense of their country or who served in the military before they passed away.

However, there are plenty of other options for Veterans Day activities that maintain a link to the day’s meaning while doing something upbeat and enjoyable. Here are some suggestions:

Visit a Family Member Who Served in the Military

Kids learn about wars in textbooks and on TV, but black and white pages and fictionalized portrayals don’t tell them what it’s really like to be on the front lines. If you have a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin or other relative who served in the military, and perhaps even fought in a war, make plans to visit that person over the weekend.

The visit doesn’t have to mean stopping at someone’s home for an awkward session of listening to old war stories. Go somewhere fun together, like a zoo or family-friendly restaurant and let the conversation happen naturally.

Go to a Museum with a Veterans Day Tie-in

If you’re in or near a large city, you probably have a historical museum, monument or other place nearby that relates to Veterans Day. Even if you take advantage of the long weekend to go on a trip to a fun place like Walt Disney World, there’s probably an appropriate place. For example, the Museum of Military History is literally minutes away from the Magic Kingdom.

If your children aren’t happy about going somewhere they might see as “boring,” do an exercise in gratitude. Have them talk about the things they love most about living in a free country and help them understand how veterans made those things possible over the years. You can even tie it in to the story of Jesus. Discuss how He sacrificed Himself for mankind by relating the sacrifices veterans made to preserve the American way of life.

Watch a Movie with a Military Theme

It doesn’t have to be a theme that relates directly to Veterans Day. For example, the movie The Butler looks at eight presidencies and covers a wide swatch of history, including the Vietnam War and Cold War years. The idea is to make sure that your choice has some nod to the holiday.

If you choose to stay in, microwave some popcorn, grab a box of malted milk balls and pop in your favorite war movie DVD or watch one on Netflix, Hulu or your service of choice.

Go to a Parade

Many major cities, like New York and Atlanta, have special parades on Veterans Day Weekend. Everyone loves a parade, especially when it involves military pomp and circumstance. The kids will enjoy the marching bands and floats, and you’ll feel a wave of patriotic pride well up in your chest.

God wants us to honor those with wisdom and experience, as He makes abundantly clear in Leviticus: 

You shall rise up before the gray head, and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God. I am Yahweh. —Leviticus 19:32

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