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Thank you to all our veterans

by Nancy Mueller
| November 5, 2010 9:00 PM

November, the 11th month of the year, is upon us again. The month that is synonymous with the end of campaigns and decisions finally made on election day; the changing of the weather from beautiful Indian summer to the onset of winter; darkness cast on us earlier each day; Veterans Day; and Thanksgiving.

Each of these has some importance in all of our lives - some more important than others. For me, the one that has come to be extremely important is Veterans Day.

If you think about it, Veterans Day is a symbolic day that has given great meaning to the other important November days. If not for the men and women who have served our country, would it actually be possible for us to celebrate elections and Thanksgiving? Our veterans, past and present, have sacrificed so each of us can be thankful for our families, our rights as U.S. citizens, and our freedom.

In the next couple of weeks the students in our schools will be learning what Veterans Day is and why we celebrate it. There will be curriculum to cover, standards to be met, and possible testing over material taught. In the spring they may be faced with answering questions pertaining to the history of our country on a state standardized test. Children will be heard singing patriotic songs and hosting veterans for celebration assemblies and some will have the privilege of shaking the hand of a veteran. All of this is important and necessary, but is it enough?

At the end of November should we forget about those men and women who have served and sacrificed so much and just slip into the next month on the calendar? I believe that we need to keep reminding our youth of the struggles that our veterans have endured so they may continue to have the freedoms they enjoy now. All Americans need to remember year round our veterans and thank them in whatever manner we have available to us. A handshake and a simple "thank you" can mean the world to a person who has served in our military and, speaking from experience, can make the giver feel proud and honored as well.

I encourage everyone, children and adults, to take the time to talk with a veteran, listen to their stories, and hear the personal side to history. Observe closely the emotion on the veteran's face: the pain and anguish, the hurt, the struggle, the tears, and the pride. You will discover what a privilege it is and probably you will become thirsty for more. This is how the stories will continue from generation to generation.

And to our veterans, we need to hear your stories; share them with us even though I realize how painful that can be. Write them down, record them on video, or just have conversations with young people so they can become citizens who carry us forward in a world that is in such turmoil. We can learn from the past if we listen closely and maybe someday there will not be the need to have so many men and women make the decision that takes them from their homes and families to protect our freedoms.

World War II veterans, known as the "greatest generation," are now in their 80s and 90s and every day more pass on from this earthly life. Honor them. Do what you can to make sure they know they are appreciated for what they did during World War II.

In September I had the privilege to be in Washington, D.C. While visiting the WWII Memorial on the National Mall, I had the good fortune to speak with veterans from Texas who had been given the opportunity to see this incredible memorial through the Honor Flight program. This is a nationwide program that pays for these trips so the men and women who served can see how their country is honoring them for eternity.

In this month of November our schoolchildren will be collecting donations so they can sponsor WWII veterans from our area to take the Honor Flight. If you wish to be part of this amazing opportunity, donation drives will be taking place in the following locations: Winton Elementary (Nov. 3 -19), Ramsey Elementary (Nov. 3 - 12), Skyway Elementary (Nov. 8-12), Hayden Meadows Elementary (Nov. 8-19), and Project CDA (ends today). The staff at Lakes Magnet Middle School have already taken up a donation. Donations can also be made at Coeur d'Alene Numerica Credit Unions where an account called Kids for Honor Flight has been opened.

Remember, a donation is much appreciated, but the most important aspect of November's great Veterans Day is to keep the remembrance and thanks going throughout the other 11 months. Thank you to the 16 million who served during WWII and 400,000 thank yous to the families of those who perished.

And to those who have and are serving now, thank you!

Nancy Mueller is a music and physical education specialist.

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