Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day - How You and Your Kids Can Remember

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Like many holidays, the full original meaning of Veterans Day is often forgotten. My grandfather was a WWI veteran, and for me this day is about remembering him and the stories he used to tell me as a girl. For me, the solemn wrinkles on his brow from a long life well lived embody the importance of celebrating Veterans Day; to reflect on the horror of war, the importance of honoring those that have served, and the value in working hard for peace to ensure that our children inherit a better world.

My grandfather had no regrets in serving. He was proud of his time spent serving the country. He made friendships that lasted a lifetime. Yet he always described himself as a soldier for peace. And he was. After he got back he started his career as a social worker, fighting on behalf of the homeless and the unemployed. The saddest part? At any given point, one of his cases was for a veteran, often struggling with medical bills.

I like to remember Veterans Day with my children by looking over old photographs of my grandfather with them, and talking about his legacy. I also like doing peace crafts with them--it makes the moral message seem a bit more fun!

Here are some ideas for all of you:

1. Make a hanging paper dove ornament.

2. Sew together two pieces of scrap fabric cut out into a dove shape. Use either as a patch for a sweater, bag, backpack, etc. or mount it on a magnet to use on your fridge. Or to make it even simpler, just cut a dove out of felt and let your kids decorate it with sequins, buttons, feathers, or whatever else you have around the house.

3. Make a peace lantern.

4. Make a friendship bracelet with your kids before bed, and encourage them to give it to someone the next day at school. I think it's great to encourage kids to realize that peace starts with everyday actions of goodwill, and little things like this are a fun way to encourage them.

As a armchair historian myself, I love taking the time to listen to the stories of other Veterans like my grandfather, and there are lots of great links to radio stories on the internet. Here are a couple:

1. This story aired two years ago--at that time only 14 WWI Veterans were alive, the youngest being 106 and the oldest being 115. You get to hear some of them interviewed here.

2. What with the recent historical milestone with last week's presidential election, what better time to remember the often overlooked contribution of African Americans to WWI. This entertaining radio story is about a woman from Washington D.C. who discovered the diary of an African American soldier in her attic. A really fascinating story to listen to.

Happy Veterans Day!


Casey said...

Thanks for this little bit of history and for the craft ideas! The lantern was a hit with the kids after school.

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