Many people know that I did not grow up here in Texas. I grew up, went to school, and began my teaching career in the great state of California. One of the first things I noticed when first moving to Texas and putting my own children in public school is how many fewer school holidays there are than in California. There are many explanations for this here in Texas but after last week’s Veterans Day program put on by the Grade 3, I now have my own reflections.
Our school is close to six years old and we are still building traditions. That’s what happens when people start new endeavors (like schools): little to no expectations, sometimes fear of the unknown, and a lot of changes to get things “just right”. And so, in the spirit of starting a new endeavor, our Grade 3 students and teachers collaborated 2 years ago to create a musical program to honor veterans. It was a learning experience about the significance of everyday heroes. My daughter was in third grade at the time. The program was very homegrown and inspiring, with patriotic songs, dancing, and pictures of veterans from our families.
This year, I was able to participate as a third grade teacher. Our program was a great springboard to our Day of Service, where Grade 3 chose to support local veterans in need, while also spending time with local veterans to build empathy and knowledge about what it is like to serve in the military. Our little veterans program was the third annual, and our schoolwide Day of Service is our sixth annual. I think it is safe to say two strong traditions have been born and cultivated to include not only our school community but our local community.
So, why don’t we have a day off in honor of Veterans day? Well, the military doesn’t take the day off, so why should we? They take action, often risking injury or death, so why shouldn’t we take action in some small way? Veterans Day is the ultimate celebration of courage, action, and duty. The more we make a tradition of action, the more our families and children will courageously volunteer their time and talents with no expectation of payment or reward. Yes, joining the military is a great way for men and women to educate themselves and take care of their families, but we all know these special people have a deep sense of duty. This is what I want for my own children, and for my students.
And what holiday comes next? Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is yet another celebration of action taken by everyday people. I am thankful for our veterans, their families, and this wonderful school community that has inspired appreciation and action in my own family. We often call the holiday season a “season of giving”. Let’s call it a season of action!