Author: Alyssa Craig
Especially with Thanksgiving quickly approaching and the rest of the holiday season in full swing, Veterans Day does not always have the chance to be fully appreciated. Especially for children who are excited for pumpkin pie and the impending visit from Santa in the near future, Veterans Day can be the last thing on their minds. Consider taking some time this year to teach your family a little bit more about Veterans Day and help them gain a new respect for those who have served, and currently do serve our great nation.
A Brief History
The first step to teaching your family more about Veterans Day is to give them a little historical background about the day. Share some of these facts with them to get them excited for the national holiday.
Veterans Day stems from the end of the World War I, or “The Great War” as it was known back then. The war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919, but most of the large scale fighting had already stopped on November 11, 1918 during a cease fire, also known as an armistice. Due to this, Veterans Day was originally called “Armistice Day” and is celebrated on November 11 each year. The name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954 by President Eisenhower.
The United States is not the only country to celebrate Veterans Day. Other countries such as Canada, Australia, and Great Britain also take a day to honor their military personnel. Although they do not call it the same name (the three aforementioned countries call it “Rememberance Day”) they all celebrate it either on or near November 11.
As you prepare to help your family learn to appreciate Veterans Day more fully, come up with a list of activities or service opportunities you can participate in together. Consider some of the following ideas as you make your plans.
Flag Ceremony: Find a flag ceremony in your community and take your children to participate in it. Teach your children the Pledge of Allegiance beforehand so they can participate in it at the ceremony.
Moment of Silence: The war officially ended at 11 a.m., so whether you are at home or at work, have a moment of silence at 11 a.m. for two minutes. If your children are not with you, encourage them to have their own moment of silence at that time.
Veterans Hospital: Take your children to visit a veterans hospital to visit with those staying there. You can even encourage your children to draw pictures or write letters to bring with them to give to the veterans.
Thank You Cards: If there are veterans or active military members in your family or neighborhood, set apart time to write letters to them thanking them for their service. If they live nearby, go with your children to deliver the thank you cards personally.
Veterans Day Dinner: If there are families in your neighborhood or in your extended family with active military members, have them over for dinner! Have them talk to your children about their experience as a military family and how important the military is for maintaining our freedoms.
Bring a Vet to School: If you have a veteran in the family, check with your child’s teacher and see if together you can arrange a time for your family member to come in and speak to your child’s class. They can tell the children about their experiences serving in the military and tell some fascinating stories.
For Your Own Family
If you have an active member of the military in your own family, Veterans Day is probably a special day for you already. Take the time to celebrate the member of your family that puts so much on the line. If they are away on duty, send them a special package and be sure to have your children or other friends and family write letters of love and encouragement.
Military service affects the spouses and loved ones, as well as the individual military members. If you are the spouse of a military personnel, take a little bit of time to treat yourself on Veterans Day. Get yourself a special treat or find a way to pamper yourself. You may also consider looking into some of the great benefits offered to yourself and your family because of your family member’s involvement in the military.
This Veterans Day make it a day your family will not neglect in the mad dash of the holiday season. Through participation in the community, as well as interaction with members of a military family individually, your family can gain a greater respect and appreciation for those who fight to protect our freedoms now and in days past.