For Veteran’s Day, I’m thankful for all veterans who served or currently serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. I was lucky enough to attend assemblies at two of the schools in our district today. Each was touching in its own way. At the middle school, the program included a slide show with photos of veterans related to staff and students at the school. By putting a name on each face, it gave the experience a very personal element. I think it made a connection for students to realize that their principal’s brother is currently stationed in London.
The program at the elementary school was a different type of experience. Students sang, recited poetry and handed out stars and flags. It was what happened at the end that turned it into something memorable. A veteran stood and addressed the group. It was clear by the look on Mike’s face that this was not part of the planned program. He asked his fellow veterans to stand and face the children. In a voice choked with emotion, he requested they stand at attention. He went on to tell them, “This is what it was all for. It was for them,” turning to look at the children. He said a lot more. I can’t remember what and I’m sure if you ask any of the staff in the room at the time, they probably can’t either. Honestly, taking in the carefully (and sometimes not at all disguised) emotion on the faces of the veterans looking down at the students’ innocent faces, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room! It was a powerful moment. It summed up the point of the day. That it was totally unplanned and unexpected made it all the more meaningful.
And as the principal pointed out- other schools have this day off. We don’t. We have Casimir Pulaski Day off. He said that at first he didn’t understand why. Then he looked around the room at the kids and the veterans and he said, “This is why. This day is more important.” And I have to agree with him. I grew up in Illinois within spitting distance of Chicago and I never learned about Pulaski. I always thought it was just a street that ran north/south. (I’m serious!) I did learn about veterans and the importance of honoring them. This day IS important.