I have a confession. Up until three years ago, I really hadn’t paid that much attention to Veterans Day.
As a military brat, I knew about it, of course. I think we got off from school for it when I was a kid. As a middle school teacher, we didn’t get the day off. We did a few activities as a school, of course, but I personally didn’t do much with it in my ESOL classes where my students were just trying to grasp how to get through their day in a new language.
But when my daughter joined American Heritage Girls as a kindergarten student, we quickly learned that one of the big events of the fall was decorating a float, making thank you cards for veterans, and participating in Columbia’s Veterans Day parade.
We loved it that first year, and every year since. This past Friday, the 38th annual parade, was supposed to be the city’s largest Veterans Day parade ever, and is known as one of the largest in the Southeast. We started the day early, getting into position by 10 a.m., and spent the next hour perfecting the decorations on the float and taking dozens of pictures.
After four Veterans Day parades with American Heritage Girls, want to know my favorite part? Not the float decorating, or even the parade itself. It is the look on the face of a veteran when he or she receives a thank you card. We have been told that they cherish and keep those cards, and that our homespun float reminds them of the patriotic parades of years past.
During this season of thanksgiving, especially coming out of such a time of division during the election, I’m thankful for the chance to instill in my children a sense of pride and thankfulness for these great men and women, who have fought to preserve freedom for our country and others around the world, and to remind them of how blessed they are to live in this great nation.