A recent project at my daughter's school made me wonder, "Are parents not making the grade when it comes to teaching our children about Veterans Day?"
So I decided to ask a veteran what they wished parents would teach their children about Veterans Day.
"I'm surprised by how many children can't really give an explanation for why we celebrate Veterans Day. I think it's important that kids (and adults) understand that it's not just another excuse to have a day off school or work. It is a day set aside to remember and give thanks to all the men and women who serve and sacrifice for our country every day. In fact, a lot of the same military members the holiday was established to honor are not relaxing for the day. They're still out there working and fighting to keep America free." - Jo, Ormond Beach, Fla. (U.S.A.F. veteran served for 7 years)
"I wish parents would teach their kids the reason that we have a Veterans Day, and not just see it as a day off work. If not for the Armed Forces that date back to the very birth of this country, we wouldn't have the freedoms that we all enjoy today. Also, thank a veteran for his or her service and please don't greet people with 'Happy Veterans Day.' It's a solemn day of remembrance, not meant to be a celebration." - Marie Anne, Chillicothe, Ohio (USMC-Ret, 1975-1997)
"Veterans Day is made to honor people who served in the military, and kids tend to think it is all fame and glory. They don't understand there is real risk involved in serving. Our forefathers lost their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today, and kids today just cannot comprehend that." - Anthony, Katy, Texas (United States Army Veteran, 8 years)
"I wish children knew the true meaning of the holiday, that it is a day set aside to honor those who have given their lives, and or sacrificed time and effort for their country. They should also impress upon their children the nobility in serving their nation; that the Pledge of Alliance should be more than perfunctory chant; and that duty, honor, country is more than a slogan. I wish children gained the knowledge of all of the battles fought, won, and lost by America's men and women in uniform." - Vincent, Aurora, Ill. (United States Navy, 15 years)
Some may say, isn't that the teacher's job? In a way, yes, but as a parent I want to be the one teaching my children first.
My daughter's project was to bring to school a picture and brief description of service of someone in your family. My father served in the Navy before my birth and the United States Air Force Reserves while I was growing up, and my daughter's questions showed me exactly how little I knew of my own father's service to his country.
So this year we are doing things differently. We are learning about where grandpa served. We are looking at the pictures and the history behind the ship he served on and its service members' many accomplishments. Someday when they are a little older they will be able to answer even more about the other veterans in our family as well as exactly what Veterans Day truly means. And, this year and every year, we will remember to say, "Thank you for your service."
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