There are only snippets of memories from my time as a fourth grader floating around in my head these days. I remember that my teacher’s name was Mrs. Young–though there wasn’t a damned thing “young” looking about her. No one wanted her as a homeroom teacher so, naturally, she ended up being mine. I remember decorating shoe boxes with pink crape paper for valentines (’cause kids still did that in fourth grade back then). I could probably walk you to the classroom if you could get me to the school itself–I haven’t lived in that city for years and doubt I’d remember the streets. I think we started learning cursive that year, and I’m pretty sure that’s where I learned to shake my coats/shoes to check for fiddleback spiders.
That’s pretty much the bulk of what I retained.
Notice there’s not much in the way of actual learning in there? Well, aside from the cursive.
My oldest is in fourth grade now, and I’m hoping she and her three-hundred and twenty five schoolmates remember for a very long time what they taught me last Thursday. Observe Veteran’s Day.
It’s so easy as an adult to get sucked up into the endless list of things we either assign ourselves to do, or that we need to do to provide for our families. As ashamed as I am to admit it, the endless list of chores tends to smother my generosity and thoughtfulness.
Thursday afternoon, I got home, got the girls off the bus, and proceeded with homework, snacks, chores, etc. My throat was scratchy, my body felt like it was slugging around an extra fifty pounds, and my brain was processing at about the same speed as one of those 486 computers. (Remember those?)
The last thing I wanted to do was go to Abby’s fourth grade Veteran’s Day concert.
I could pretty this up for you, but it wouldn’t have the same impact, and I really want you to feel what I felt.
Those three-hundred and twenty five kiddos, their teachers, and random high schoolers gave me a thorough, mental bitch-slap.
The program had me freakishly close to tears more times than I could count. At one point, they sung each of the songs representing the various branches of the military and asked those who’d served in those branches to stand and be observed.
Seriously, I don’t know how I didn’t blubber. I’m tearing up again just typing this.
All I could think to myself the whole time I sat there is, “How many Veteran’s Days have I by-passed without stopping five minutes to say, ‘Thank you’?” Is my schedule really that tight?
Please, please, please….don’t get me wrong. I adore, respect, and admire our veterans. I’ll be the first one to stand up and give them my chair, let them out of a plane first…whatever they need, I’ll give them. They deserve it. I was just really ashamed I’d never observed the national holiday better.
I’m not going to screw this year up.
There’s a little booth set up at work I noticed a few days ago. It’s decorated in red, white, and blue and has our flag positioned beside it. There are cards where people can send thank you notes to people serving in our military. I haven’t seen anyone sitting there filling a card out yet and I’ve walked by it many times.
I thought about that booth Thursday night. I went there the next day and took a bunch of co-workers with me. I’m going again today, right after I post this blog.
Our veteran’s deserve at least a few special minutes of my time.
If you’ve served in the military, or if you’re part of a military family, THANK YOU for what you and your loved ones have done for me and mine.
KathlynNovember 11, 2013 at 10:45 am
You’re so right about not letting the moments when we could actively show our thanks to the veterans and active members of the military to not slip past us, every day of the year.
When our WWII Veteran relatives/friends were living we had our kids call them up from a very young age and tell them thank you for their service, and as parents, we shared our thanks, too. One friend lost both legs, I can remember having wheel chair races in their home back in the 60s. I called him every year until he passed on about 2003.
I read recently that when you pass by someone in uniform, just put your hand over your heart, give them a look in the eye and pat your heart a couple of times. I’ve done so, usually with tears about to brim over.
Often I’ll see those WWII, Korean or Vietnam vets proudly wearing the caps w/their insignia on them. Tell them thanks for their service. You’ll be surprised how easy it is and how much it will mean to them, and to you, too.
Don’t forget we’ve got a lot of female veterans now!
Thanks for the reminder, Rhenna.
CJ BurrightNovember 11, 2013 at 5:04 pm
Nice tribute to veterans – they should definitely get more than one day a year to be honored.