Every year Harold Keller Elementary in Metairie has a Veterans’ Day program. Although my children go to a different school, I go and offer support to the event as the principal and one of the teachers are members of the church, and they both help spearhead the annual event. It involves having all the school children from preschool to fifth grade sing patriotic songs and read patriotic proclamations. It takes about an hour and is good fun.
The focus of the event is to thank the veterans, but what I see each year as a veteran and among the veterans is that a real service we should celebrate is that of educators who take the time out of the curriculum to remember the service and sacrifice of armed service members. As you look in the eyes of the children, and listen as they sing the songs, you realize that this is the next generation of Americans who we will need to stand up and serve. They are all learning at a very young age “This Land is Your Land, and This Land is My Land,” “Let There be Peace on Earth,” “It’s a Grand Old Flag,” “God Bless the USA,” the national anthem, and the Pledge of Allegiance. This assures that children like them will be far more likely to grow into responsible citizens than children who passively listen to someone else speak or sing at other events. I would also venture to say that those who will likely stand up and serve in the armed services will be those who went to schools that uplifted patriotism as a virtue.
Today, I had the honor of sitting by a World War II veteran, who told me a few war stories in between the children’s renditions. But he would always stop as the children began to sing, and you could see his eyes light up as he watched and listened to this 21st century generation of Americans, who very easily might be called to duty as much, maybe more, than any generation that has preceded them.
So on this Veterans’ Day, I want to salute the teachers and administrators who don’t give Veterans’ Day a cursory nod but instead pass on something most important to our children.
Until next time,