I teach in a military town, so Veteran's Day is a big deal here. Many members of the community are veterans (many come here to retire), and we always have a big Veteran's Day parade downtown. The School also has a ceremony every year to mark the occasion.
And we do it up right.
The band plays patriotic medleys. The chorus sings some wonderful patriotic songs and our music teacher sings the National Anthem (she's amazing). We have the school winner of the Veteran's Day essay contest read his or her essay, we have some honored guests from our local military post, and we have a veteran guest speaker. One of our own teachers, also a veteran, acts as emcee because when he retires he better go into preachin', he's that good. Talk about motivational. We also honor all the faculty and staff (and there's quite a few including Mrs. Eagle, Mr. Enforcer, and Mr. Social Studies) who are veterans.
This year, however, we added a little twist. Those of us on the committee wanted all the students who currently have a parent deployed to have a bit of recognition as well. They all got American flags when they got to sixth period, and they brought them to the ceremony.
First, we had faculty and staff who had a child or spouse deployed stand up to be recognized. Again, quite a few. The kids screamed and cheered.
Then Mrs. Numbers, the sixth grade math teacher who puts this together every year, asked the kids if they knew why they got flags. "Because my Dad is in Afghanistan!" came one voice, followed by "My mom is in Iraq!", and pretty soon a chorus of "Mine too!" followed . And then, her voice breaking, she had the kids with the flags, the ones who currently have a parent serving overseas, stand up and wave their flags. Approximately 200 kids stood up and many of us who teach this kids got a tear in our eye.
And the place erupted into clapping and cheering and stamping and hollering as their classmates acknowledged that these kids, in their own way, serve as well.
Because it sucks to be a middle schooler in the first place. But to be a middle schooler, with the added weight of having a parent serving overseas, and missing them and worrying about them, sucks even more.
And I was so proud of both groups of kids - my stoic little military "brats", and their classmates who showed they cared. It was the perfect way to end the week.
To all my veteran readers out there - thank you.