My family loves to celebrate holidays. We color Easter eggs, proudly fly the flag on July 4th and display pumpkins and scarecrows galore for Halloween. We’ve been planning our Thanksgiving menu since Labor Day and counting down the weeks until Christmas since mid-September.
It’s hard to get children interested in holidays like Veteran’s Day, with no presents or feasts promised as the central celebration. But, since the presidential election and Veteran’s Day occured less than a week apart, I’m taking the opportunity to teach my son about the importance of patriotism.
Henry went with me to vote on Tuesday. He carried a small American flag as we walked to the polling place. Along the way we talked about the flag and how it represents freedom. This week, I’ll continue the conversation and tell him how our military protects our country and why we should show appreciation to those who have served.
Veteran’s Day represents many essential values to me- freedom, sacrifice, and most of all, the importance of working toward peace in countries with fragile governments and radical beliefs. Henry loves to play make believe with tanks, guns and fire fighter planes. I’ve explained that while these are fun to play, for our veterans these ‘games’ are very real. My father-in-law served in the army during the Korean War. Seeing pictures of him in uniform helps Henry better grasp the meaning of service.
I don’t expect Henry to understand the intricate details of war and peace, but I hope as he grows older he will develop an appreciation for our military and the sacrifice veterans make. Choosing the leader of this great nation is an enormous responsibility. Celebrating Veteran’s Day and voting in a presidential election, all in the same week, is a wonderful way to begin instilling the concept that freedom isn’t free.
How do you help you children understand Veteran’s Day?