With all the troubles we are facing as a nation, why should we care about celebrating a holiday about wars that happened a long time ago? We already have thanked these soldiers so many times that maybe to save money and have more time for ourselves we should just accept the fact that November 11th is just another day to take off from school or job and spend the day watching t.v. or some sporting event? I've been guilty of this myself. Even in school, we really didn't do anything to mark this day as special. We certainly didn't dress in military costumes or have special assemblies honoring those who had fought for our country. So why do I bring it up now?
My brother fought during the Vietnam war way back in the sixties. He joined the Naval Reserves and became the youngest officer at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He was stationed in Japan on a great battleship, but volunteered for missions in Nam. He never spoke about his missions or his bravery, but I know it changed him and everybody who fought in it, just like war changed all of our brave soldiers' lives. I used to think he, and my other friends who served in Nam, didn't talk about it because they wanted to forget what it was like, and so I forgot about it too, even if this time of war changed my life as well for it was the wars in Asia, that our kids know so little about today, that turned me from becoming a lawyer to becoming a teacher, a career I loved, and it was the war that I only got a distant taste of when I did basic training for my service in the Army Reserve National Guard. To this day, I remember those few night exercises, crawling in the dirt on my stomach under barbed wire with bullet tracers flying overhead, fake mines, exploding around me, dragging my M-1 rifle and feeling terrified. And that was only training. I can't imagine what the real war must have been like for my brother and all these 'children' who had to give up the most important years of their lives for our country. How could I have forgotten what they went through? How can we forget what so many of our brothers, sisters, and children, are still doing to keep our country and ourselves, safe?
Recently, my brother reminded me that he, and the other brave men and women who fought in Asia, came back to a country that seemed to want to forget this war, and in so doing, forgot the bravery and sacrifice of our children. And as I said, I forgot too, even though an untold number of my former students had fought in Iraq, Afghanistan, or other dangerous places in the world. My brother was right and even if we don't agree with our nation's wars, we need to support our kids who are giving up so much of themselves. So thanks to Jeff, my little brother, this year I will stop whatever I am doing on November 11th and say a prayer for all of our kids who are now our veterans because they deserve our thanks, and maybe if we remember their sacrifice, we will not be so quick to sacrifice future generations of our precious children. Thanks Jeff, Neil and everyone else who fought for our great country. Today I honor you. Whatever I think of our nation's politics and wars, I want every veteran to know we are proud and grateful for their sacrifice
Mark is the award-winning teacher/author who has set his sights on bullying and other school problems. Please join in the quest to end bullying by adding your ideas and comments.