Recently a friend pointed out a sad truth: as long as our children have been alive, our country has been at war. This is in stark contrast to my childhood, when the only wars I ever heard about were in the pages of my history books.
That all changed on August 2nd, 1990. I remember hearing that the US was at war with Kuwait and not fully comprehending what that meant, even though I was much older than my children are now.
My children have never known life without the shadow of war. Their classmates have parents who’ve been deployed not once, but multiple times. They’re used to hearing casualty counts on the evening news, and are familiar with terms like “embedded reporter” and “friendly fire.”
Despite these differences, I’m not sure that my kids grasp the true sacrifice of our veterans and active duty military any better than I did as a child. In their minds, I’m afraid, all the talk about war and service and deployment and heroism fades into the background like any other “grown up talk.”
November 11th is Veteran’s Day. This year I’m making it a point to involve my children in local Veteran’s Day activities. More than that, though, I’ll be making an effort to help them understand what it means to serve our country. It’s a small step toward honoring those who currently sacrifice so much, as well as all those who’ve come before.
Write thank you letters to active duty personnel. 1 of 8Help your children write letters expressing their gratitude to active duty personnel or veterans.
Find out more by visiting Operation Gratitude.
Attend a Veteran’s Day Parade. 2 of 8Support vets by attending a local Veteran's Day Parade. Vet Friends has a list of parades by state, and some international celebrations as well.
Get more info here!
Compile care packages. 3 of 8There are many options available for those who'd like to compile care packages to wounded military personnel or veterans. Search online or contact your local VA Hospital.
Get more info here!
Have a family flag ceremony. 4 of 8Does your family have an American flag? Learn proper flag etiquette, then hang your flag proudly as a family.
Here's a simple list of rules for your family to follow!
Make a Medal 5 of 8The VA website has many kid-friendly activities, like their fun Make a Medal game. It's great for ages five to eight.
Make a Medal with your kids right here!
Listen to the stories of those who’ve served. 6 of 8Older kids may appreciate hearing the stories of veterans.
Listen with them and this discuss their service.
Model gratitude. 7 of 8Help kids understand that a simple "thank you" can go a long way. Model appreciation by approaching service personnel and veterans and saying "thank you for your service" in the presence of your children. After all, as parents we're they're best teachers.
Educate them about why we celebrate Veteran’s Day. 8 of 8Help your children understand the meaning of Veteran's Day and why we celebrate.
The VA website is a great place to get started with the basics.
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Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.