War … remembered


Friday! At last. My school kids were winding up on a Friday afternoon, getting ready for a three-day weekend. It was getting loud in the classroom, so I thought I’d remind them about being quiet and respectful just before we went to the Veteran’s Day assembly in the multi-purpose room (serves as gymnasium, cafeteria, and auditorium) of our school this afternoon. I asked them to be on their best behavior, to sit quietly, to be respectful of adult guests who were in attendance, especially those who were serving or had served in the military.

The mood was somber once we got started. Our principal also spoke to the student body about the intent and importance of the assembly, and after the initial noisiness, the students settled down. There was the pledge of allegiance, then the recognition of those in the audience who are currently serving or had served in the various branches of the military. We also watched a short video that I’d found about the history of Veteran’s Day, how it began as Armistice Day and evolved into honoring those in the military, past and present.

Each war was remembered by the lighting of the candles. I thought it sad that several wars had to be “combined” into the lighting of each candle because if there had been a single candle for each of the wars our country has been involved in, the stage area would have been consumed by flames.

At the end, the principal asked the students to observe a moment of silence, then to exit the room in silence as well. Almost no one made a sound until we reached the inside of our classroom, and then, where previously there had been an air of giddiness, it was very subdued. We did a few academic things, quietly, and then it was the end of the day. There wasn’t even the usual whooping and loudness right after the bell rang.

The kids seemed to learn from the assembly, and take its meaning and significance to heart. It is hoped that as they enjoy the three-day weekend ahead, they remember at least momentarily what Veteran’s Day is, and that freedom is a hard-won privilege.

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