Over Memorial Day weekend, many cemeteries, large and small, have ceremonies to commemorate fallen soldiers. These can be great for kids to experience - seeing current soldiers in uniform, seeing the American flag displayed proudly, along with flags representing the different branches of the armed forces. However, if your children are sensitive to loud noises, you may want to check ahead of time to find out if any gun salutes are to be included in the ceremony. Plan ahead and bring some ear muffs or ear plugs for the kids.
Even if you don't attend a planned ceremony, spending time at a cemetery can still be a great learning experience for kids. Go to your local discount store, grab some little American flags, and have the kids place them at the graves of service members (even if there is already a flag there, tell them it's ok if they place another one.) Obviously, if you can take the kids to a national cemetery nearby, that is great, but, if not, many larger cemeteries often have special monuments dedicated to soldiers of a particular geographic area or of a particular war. Show the kids these statues and monuments and explain who they honor and why.
Most kids absolutely adore Memorial Day parades, mostly because nowadays everyone from the Shriners to the VFW to the local churches throw bags and bags of candy to bystanders. But when you take your kids to the parade, point out the Color Guard that usually leads the parade. Teach your kids to take off their hats and explain to them why people are silent as they pass by.
Be sure to check the calendars of your local historical societies and museums; sometimes special Memorial Day programs, war reenactments, and military character portrayals are scheduled. Children are usually very receptive to interacting with historical roleplayers.
And, if your family has ancestors who have fought and died for our country, this weekend would be a great time to introduce those people in your family tree to your children, and talk a little bit about the war in which they fought.
This brief, yet informative YouTube video is a great introduction to Memorial Day and is appropriate for children to watch: