Last night was one of those crazy busy nights in our household. As soccer practice finished up, we decided to make a quick pizza run before haircut appointments. I ran in, placed the order, and headed back to the car. And we waited. And waited, and waited. Usually, this is a speedy process from the time the order is placed to the time it is finished, but for some reason, today was an exceptionally busy day. It was during this waiting time that something really cool happened.
My son, Hudson, has loved the armed services for as long as I can remember. And anytime he sees an active or retired serviceman or servicewoman, he will extend a “hello” and a “thank you for your service”. While we were waiting, we noticed a serviceman walk out with his order. As he returned to his car, Hudson waved, then rolled down the window and thanked him for his service. He smiled and waved back, proceeded to get into his car, and stopped.
He walked over to the passenger window where Hudson was sitting, and as if he could sense Hudson’s admiration, he carefully ripped off one of his earned badges and handed it to my son. My son was speechless. He explained the meaning behind the badge, and told a story about how he received it. Hudson shared with him that he one day dreams of being in the Army and the veteran encouraged him to not lose sight of his aspirations.
Stories to be Told
I thought long about how impactful this one moment was and will continue to be for my son. But even more so, it reminded me of the importance of extending our hellos and appreciation to our veterans. Our heroes. This man had stories to tell, stories that many of us could learn from, and memories that he wanted to share that are forever a part of his story. We all listened closely as he told us stories behind some of his other badges. I felt connected to him through these stories, through the kindness he showed to my son, and I gained a renewed appreciation for his commitment to our country.
As Veteran’s Day approaches, we acknowledge that it is an incredibly important time to remember the service, dedication, and selflessness that our veterans possess. But beyond that, I feel it’s even more important to teach our children to not only have gratitude for these brave men and women, but to find ways to interact with them. A simple greeting and an affirmation when they are fortunate enough to cross paths with our veterans can really go a long way. As an educator, what can we do to encourage this in our students? What else can we do to show our veterans how much we value their service?
Passing the Torch
In a perfect world, our veterans would feel like everyday was Veterans Day, because everyday they would feel appreciated and valued. If you are looking for ways to support veterans, check out this resource from military.com that lists practical ways to make an impact. Take it a step further by having your students develop ideas around how they think we should celebrate our heroes. Then, help them turn their ideas into reality. The best way for kids to truly feel empowered to make a difference is by providing opportunities to bring their own ideas to life. A great place to start is to get our students comfortable with expressing their gratitude to those who have put it all on the line to defend our great country.