Is Veterans Day an overlooked event at your school? Make it a stand-out day that brings pride to your campus. Try these two interactive activities and make November a celebration of service and family. Leave a comment about the veteran(s) in your family so we can honor them as well.
My father retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. I am proud to be an "Air Force brat". I saw much of our country because of our frequent moves. Our son joined the Air Force, and as a young captain, was posted to Afghanistan. Cell phones provided near-miraculous communication with him, assuring us he was safe, but the days of his wartime service were long and tense for his bride and his family.
Your school community has many veterans in its extended families. Veterans Day has personal meaning for many whose brothers, sisters, moms and dads, sons and daughters, have served our country in peace and in war. Make this day meaningful for your students and staff and their families in two interactive ways.
HISTORY OF VETERANS DAY
An armistice was declared between the Allies and Germany at 11:11 on 11/11/1918 to end the fighting in Europe. A year later, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as Armistice Day. In 1954, President Eisenhower proclaimed the day as Veterans Day, a day to honor all who served their country in the American Armed Forces, particularly those still living. Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, honors veterans who have died.
America's White Table - Honoring Missing Veterans
Read America's White Table by Margot Theis Raven (Sleeping Bear Press, 2005) to your students. It is told through the eyes of a young girl whose family set up a Remembrance Table when their Uncle John, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, came for dinner on Veterans Day.
The tradition of The Remembrance Table originated during the time of the Vietnam War and is observed at American military bases to remember service members who were held prisoner of war or were missing in action. Solitary and solemn, it is the table where no one will ever sit. Our library white table display became a hushed memorial that students and parents frequented.
Share the book with students in grades 3 - 5. Recreate a White Table in your library or classroom. Download the White Table Display Cards for students to read and match to each object. Duplicate several sets on card stock since student handling will wear the original set. Explain why students are to be quiet and respectful around the table as they set the labels out.
Honoring Student's Veteran Family Members
Create a large bulletin board in your hall, library, or classroom. Cover it with paper in patriotic colors. Add die-cut stars. Use the parent letter to request family participation. (Be sure to give the letter to each of your faculty and staff members, including kitchen and custodial.) Display information cards and photos where all can see for the entire month.
Before mounting photos on the board, be sure there is a sticky note on the back of each telling the child's name and teacher so it can be returned. Use photo corners or repositionable tape (available at hobby stores in the scrapbook section) to mount the photos, or carefully staple across the corners so the staples do not pierce the photo.
Before displaying the forms, cut off the printed "student name" and other information so only the handwritten part is displayed. You may be surprised at the number of vets in your school family. We were! That's why you see the addition of white paper to the right of our display.
Students, staff, and visitors were often seen perusing the board throughout the month. It was a great way to honor the veterans's service, and to help students learn about their veteran relatives and show their family pride. Make November 11--and all of November--a time to remember the heroes in your midst.
Leave a comment about the veteran(s) in your family so we can honor them as well.
Ah, books. I never outgrew my love of children's books. My passion became a career--I was an elementary school librarian. And now I write books for kids!