A Day for Rememberin'
Inspired by the True Events of the First Memorial Day
Author: Leah Henderson, Copyright @ 2021

A moving tribute to the little-known history behind the first Memorial Day, illustrated by Coretta Scott King Award winner Floyd Cooper

Today is a special day. Eli knows it’s important if he’s allowed to miss one second of school, his “hard-earned right.”

Inspired by true events and told through the eyes of a young boy, this is the deeply moving story about what is regarded as the first Memorial Day on May 1, 1865. Eli dresses up in his best clothes, Mama gathers the mayflowers, Papa straightens his hat, and together they join the crowds filling the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, with bouquets, crosses, and wreaths. Abolitionists, missionaries, teachers, military officers, and a sea of faces Black, Brown, and White, they march as one and sing for all those who gave their lives fighting for freedom during the Civil War.

With poignant prose and celebratory, powerful illustrations, A Day for Rememberin’ shines light on the little-known history of this important holiday and reminds us never to forget the people who put their lives on the line for their country. The book is illustrated by award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper and includes archival photos in the back matter, as well as an author’s note, bibliography, timeline, and index.

America's White Table
Author: Margot Theis Raven, Copyright @ 2011
Ages 6 and up

The White Table is set in many halls as a symbol for and remembrance to service members fallen, missing, or held captive in the line of duty. Solitary and solemn, it is the table where no one will ever sit.

As a special gift to her Uncle John, Katie and her sisters are asked to help set the white table for dinner. As their mother explains the significance of each item placed on the table Katie comes to understand and appreciate the depth of sacrifice that her uncle, and each member of the Armed Forces and their families, may be called to give.

Klinger: A Story of Honor and Hope
Author: Betsy Beard, Copyright @ 2010

This beautifully illustrated, full color, hardback children's book tells the story of a young horse dreaming of fame as a racehorse. But his life is disrupted when he must leave his parents and start a new life. Faced with difficulty and disappointment, Klinger’s dream of significance seems unattainable. He then discovers that fame is not necessary, as he finds fulfillment in honoring fallen heroes and bringing comfort to their families.

Based on a real horse that serves in the Caisson Platoon in Arlington National Cemetery, this work of fiction was written for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors in honor of all of America's beloved fallen heroes. Written by Betsy Beard, TAPS magazine editor and surviving mom of SPC Bradley Beard.

A tribute to America's veterans
Author: Robert B. Fletcher, Copyright @ 2005
Ages 4 and up

Remembrance: A Tribute to America's Veterans is the first book to portray veterans and military funeral scenes from all of America's wars in a series of outstandingly precise watercolor paintings and pencil drawings. With compelling scenes from the Revolutionary War to the Afghanistan War, Remembrance: A Tribute to America's Veterans tells the story of the nation's 26.2 million veterans who are alive today and all who came before them. Nearly half of all Americans who served during wartime in our country's history are still alive, and nearly 80 percent of today's veterans served during a war. Remembrance: A Tribute to America's Veterans pays tribute to those warriors by providing a new view of every major war in our nation's history and a view of a veteran's life that has not been addressed before.

Rolling Thunder
Author: Kate Messner, Copyright @ 2017

​Every Memorial Day in Washington, DC, more than a million veterans and their supporters gather for the Rolling Thunder® Ride for Freedom, a demonstration that pays tribute to the men and women of the US armed forces. This lyrical story honors the bravery and sacrifice of those American heroes -- the ones who have returned home, and the ones who haven't.

The Poppy Lady
Moina Belle Michael and her tribute to veterans 
Learn more about the story behind this book - VIDEO
Download a professional CCSS Annotated Discussion and Activity Guide 
Author: Barbara Walsh, Copyright @ 2012
Ages 7 and up

When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. And she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever. Thanks to her hard work, that symbol remains strong today. Author Barbara Elizabeth Walsh and artist Layne Johnson worked with experts, primary documents, and Moina’s great-nieces to better understand Moina’s determination to honor the war veterans.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will support the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple®, which benefits children of the U.S. military.

The Wall
Author: Eve Bunting, Copyright @ 1992
Ages 4-8

A boy travels to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with his father to seek out his grandfather's name. The well-matched text and illustrations are soft but stirring.

Twenty-One Steps
Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Author: Jeff Gottesfeld, Copyright @ 2021

With every step, the Tomb Guards pay homage to America’s fallen. Discover their story, and that of the unknown soldiers they honor, through resonant words and illustrations.

Keeping vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Arlington National Cemetery, are the sentinel guards, whose every step, every turn, honors and remembers America’s fallen. They protect fellow soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, making sure they are never alone. To stand there—with absolute precision, in every type of weather, at every moment of the day, one in a line uninterrupted since midnight July 2, 1937—is the ultimate privilege and the most difficult post to earn in the army. Everything these men and women do is in service to the Unknowns. Their standard is perfection.

Exactly how the unnamed men came to be entombed at Arlington, and exactly how their fellow Soldiers have come to keep vigil over them, is a sobering and powerful tale, told by Jeff Gottesfeld and luminously illustrated by Matt Tavares—a tale that honors the soldiers who honor the fallen.


Memorial Day Books for older readers

Faces of Freedom
Profiles of America's fallen heroes: Iraq and Afghanistan
Author: Multiple authors, Copyright @ 2007

The stories in Faces of Freedom are true stories...stories of service, sacrifice, pride and love. The stories will remind you that America has been blessed with greatness in every generation and no generation has shown greater valor than our current generation of heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Read and be inspired. --Gen. Colin L. Powell
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If you check your local library, you will quickly learn that there are countless books about Memorial Day. Rather than creating an exhaustive list, Operation We Are Here has chosen to list a few favorites.
Children's books for Memorial Day

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