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I teach fourth grade…for 24 years now, in a couple of different states. I like them. And every year I’ve taught a lesson about Veterans Day. We learn all about the history of this day, how the name was changed from Armistice Day, and how the date was moved around a bit but now is, again, November 11th. Then, each student creates a timeline on a graph I start for them to show the list of wars that America has been involved in since that “War to End All Wars” finished up in 1918.
The culminating activity for this day is making cards for veterans. I have a selection of symbols of each of the military branches, stickers with patriotic symbols, and stickers of hearts and stars. But on the inside, they are to write a little note to thank a veteran for serving our country.
It’s a hugely popular day in my classroom. If the students have a member of their family that they can take the card home for, then they take it with them. But, if they really don’t know any veterans, then they leave the card with me and I drop them off at a local VFW or VA Hospital here in town. Due to the population change of the area where my school is, this year I had very few take their cards home. Probably half of my class have no relatives who would have served in the armed forces of the United States...
But, they still loved making the cards and several made more than one. So, I ended up with about 15 cards to pass out to veterans. So, today I wore my Navy T-shirt and my heart-shaped earrings that have stars and stripes on them and went to a big market to do my shopping. I took the cards with me to try another way of getting these love notes into the hands of American veterans. As I walked around the store, I looked for older men wearing their hats or shirts that identified their previous service.
I walked up to one man, and said, “Excuse me, you’re a veteran, right?” He paused and gave me a look, and replied that he was. So, I quickly explained that I was a teacher and I had my students make cards for veterans. I handed it to him, he hesitated, and then a little smile started to appear, and he took it and said, “Really — you have your students make us cards?” Then, he looked at it, with its flags and star stickers and the emblems of the Air Force and Army glued on. There was a little note inside that had “Thank you for serving our country” with country misspelled. His smile got really big, and he said thanks, and tucked it in his pocket and pushed his shopping cart down the aisle.
I gave out all the rest of the cards, as I wandered around. Some of the vets commented on my Navy shirt and asked about my family’s service. One guy shook my hand, and one man asked if he could give me a hug…sure! I finally left with all my cards given away, and feeling really, really happy!
I can’t wait till Monday to tell my students the impact of their little acts of service. This photo is a card one of them made and gave to me to honor Mr. Cowgirl. ….ahhh…