The Veteran’s Day Visitor
Words and Pictures by Peter Catalanotto and Pamela Schembri
November 11th is Veteran’s Day. How will our country come together to honor the men and women who are veterans? How will our children?
A holiday is a day set aside for remembrance and celebration and in the case of Veteran’s Day, to recognize with respect those who served in all of the Armed Forces in peacetime and in time of war.
Children for the most part know there is a military component to our government and that it is the duty of the Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Air Force and Army to protect our country.
Whether it is serving in military operations abroad or helping people in our own country during times of devastation, it seems more than appropriate to put a face, via picture books, and there are many of them, to those individuals and their families who over time have put service to their country front and center, sometimes at great cost.
It is not unusual for many young children today to have a dad, mom or both serving in the military. Certainly most children have a grandparent or other relative who was or is a veteran.
Children may ask how do we celebrate Veteran’s Day? How do we honor a grandparent, parent, brother, sister or for that matter, any relative or friend who “stood and served” at home or abroad either today or in the past?
There are as many ways as there are veterans. It may be with a simple “thank you,” attending Veteran’s Day parades, visiting forgotten veterans or a more simple and local version of the ritual of remembering those who have died in service to their country which the President of the United States does each November 11 as he visits The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery with the laying of a wreath honoring veterans everywhere.
The most important lesson I think we impart to our children, as they grow and mature, is that freedom is a tremendous gift, and as with all gifts, it comes with a price.
I think that when we model something as valuable to our children, whether it is the importance of reading or an acknowledgement of the veteran on November 11th, it signals to our children the importance of these men and women and their contribution to our country’s past and future, which can set a lasting legacy of example for each future generation of young Americans.
And so, to my father, my own two brothers and to all veterans past and present, thank you for your service to our country!
In the beginning reader series called, 2nd Grade Friends, this particular chapter book is appropriately called The Veterans Day Visitor for in it young Emily’s grandfather or Pop Pop as he is called, is a bit surprised to learn neither Emily nor her best friend Vinni have any idea of what Veteran’s Day is! Being a veteran himself he is eager to remedy the situation. He begins by explaining that people are different and as such will choose to celebrate the federal holiday in different ways. Some may hang a flag outside their home, others may attend a Veteran’s Day parade, while still others will opt to spend it quietly at home remembering their family members who served.
Initially, Vinni offers her take on the word “veteran”, believing a veteran is someone who is a “doctor for dogs!” Good guess, but Emily’s Pop Pop is quick to rectify the honest mistake.
Volunteering to come to Emily’s class on Veterans Day as a sort of live show and tell, Emily’s initial excitement is tempered by her concern over Pop Pop’s tendency to fall asleep mid sentence!
The big “What If” immediately enters Emily’s mind as she pictures what the class reaction would be if this occurred in the middle of Pop Pop’s story? Will her classmates understand?
Most children of this age can relate to the conflict between the obvious love and respect for an older relative and the fear of being embarrassed by someone we love in front of ones peers.
Will this happen to Emily or will the lesson of respect for heroes cause Emily to extend that same courtesy to her Pop Pop? It’s a lesson worth learning not only for Emily and her classmates, but also for early readers who may find this chapter book just the ticket for Veterans Day reading infused with not just a primer of facts on a holiday, but interspersed with lessons of tolerance and respect.
By the way, if you or your family knows an older veteran, here is an opportunity for your child to become involved in getting these aging war veterans to tell their stories. No less than the Library of Congress wants to hear their voices!
If you go to the following web site – www.loc.gov/vets it will provide tips for conducting interviews, provide a field kit with biographical data to gather and release forms.
This is the perfect Veterans Day family project and a chance for each of you to help “The Greatest Generation” tell their stories. Statistics say they are passing away at the rate of 1,000 a day so the window of opportunity to hear from this amazing group of people is rapidly closing and 11/11/15 is the teachable moment!
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