A few weeks back, my husband and I took a trip to Savannah, Georgia. We are lovers of American history and we visited a cemetery there that played a part in the Civil War. As we walked along the path, we came across a historical marker that caught my attention. The plaque marked the grave of Hugh McCall, whose father was a hero of the American Revolution. As I began to read, I was deeply touched by the quote from McCall that was along the bottom of the marker.
“The blood which flowed from the suffering patriots of that day, should never be forgotten; and the precious jewel which was purchased by it, should be preserved with courage and remembered with gratitude, by succeeding generations.”
What struck me about this quote was that as I thought about my generation, and my children’s generation, I noted that there is a lack of preserving and remembering that happens for our veterans–those who fought and sacrificed so much for our freedom.
Freedom is such a complex word, and covers so much, including our political and religious freedoms. As parents, we can help our children understand not only what our veterans have fought for, but how thankful we should be to these courageous men and women.
After a brief chat with my children and a few of their friends, I realized that many little ones don’t fully comprehend what the word “veteran” means. While they may be able to recite the technical definition stating that a veteran is a former member of the armed forces, most don’t understand all that being a veteran entails.
It means so much more than just being a member of a branch of the military. As we celebrate Veterans Day this week in the United States, we remember that the word “veteran” represents years of sacrifice, dedication, loyalty and bravery.
My grandfather fought in both World War II and the Korean Conflict. He is a veteran of both the Navy and the Air Force. He faced great dangers and lost friends. He is one of my heroes in life. These are the men and women our country is built on, and the true veterans we celebrate.
Teach your children the true meaning of the word “veteran” by visiting a veteran or war memorial. Many states have them, and we are blessed enough to live near several in the Washington, D.C. area. Memorials of this nature are very educational! Whether it’s World War II, the Vietnam War, the Civil War, or another war, these memorials represent veterans of many different eras and battles, and so much can be learned from seeing and learning their stories.
“Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.” Deuteronomy 32:7
Another great way to teach your children about veterans is to talk to one. Last summer, I sat down with my grandfather and interviewed him about his years in the military. It was such an eye opening experience, and afterward my heart was filled with gratitude and admiration for this great man. Many of you have veterans in your families that would be willing to share part of their story with you and your children, a glimpse into the life of a hero.
As we celebrate Veterans Day, it’s not only important to educate the next generation about our heroic veterans, but also teach them how to show their gratitude to these amazing men and women. There are so many ways your family can do this, but here are a few simple suggestions: Throw a Veterans Day party at your church, volunteer in your community for your local veterans or serve them and show your pride for our country and their sacrifices.
An easy and inexpensive idea would be to create a few care packages that you could donate to your local veteran’s hospital. Get your children and their friends to craft Veterans Day cards to add a special touch.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. As parents, it’s our duty to educate the next generation about the veterans of our country, and teach them to show our gratitude for their service.
Do you have any fun ideas for celebrating Veterans Day with your family? How do you encourage your children to show their thanks to our country’s veterans?