There’s nothing like greeting a soldier in dress uniform. For young children, they are in awe. That presence naturally commands respect. I hosted our school’s Memorial Day Remembrance on Friday, with Army Sergeant First Class John as our guest speaker. As John looked at a sea of wide-eyed children, ready to talk about Memorial Day and the American flag, he decided to kneel. Smart man. He knew that delivering his message on his knees would be better understood by children. And, he was right!
These are the words the children wrote to him on their own. “Thank you for saving our country” and “We want to keep you forever”. They are sincere words. While they capture the moment of Memorial Day and thanking a soldier, I believe there is more behind their words, perhaps a bit of patriotism learned throughout the year.
I think the best thing I do to help children understand and feel the importance of Memorial Day is to sing patriotic songs. As adults, we feel the lump in our throat whenever we sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” or “God Bless America.” Children may not feel that lump, but they most definitely feel a swell in their heart. They stand proud. I show them how to place their hands over their hearts. They love singing patriotic songs.
We belt out “God Bless America”. Our new favorite is “Red, White, and Blue” by Debbie Clement. We love singing! Music and children go hand-in-hand. When the song is also a book, that’s the icing on the cake. Children are surprised to learn that “The Star-Spangled Banner” has multiple verses. The stunning illustrations by Peter Spier give life and learning to our National Anthem. Oh, how we sing!
The Memorial Day Remembrance had to be held indoors as the day was chilly and pouring rain. Each class ‘planted’ a flag to honor and remember those who serve. Instead of putting the flags in our Memory Garden, we put them into decorated buckets. When our pen-pal Sergeant Curran visits the children next week (he is home from Afghanistan), he will help children place the flags in the Memory Garden. That gesture will bring even more meaning to saying Thank You.
What a beautiful post Jennie.. Such truth from out of the mouths of children.. Sending thoughts on Memorial Day.. Love and Blessings to you ..
Thank you, Sue. My best to you! 🙂
Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
Jennie teaches preschoolers in New England and today she shares a classroom experience as part of the preparation of her students for Memorial Day. This is impressive! Please, read on…
Thank you for reblogging, John.
My pleasure, Jennie. It is a marvelous idea to invite soldiers to meet and speak to your students. Wow! As a teacher, I would have been blown away! Kudos!
I like how you build these lessons into your classroom activity.
Thank you, Dan.
Wonderful Jennie.. love their messages and it was wonderful to have a serving soldier there to talk to them. A day that will stay in their memories I am sure.
Thank you, Sally!
Thank you, Frank!
It seems penpal Sergeant Curran walks into being the Finale…great job, Jennie!
Yes, the timing for his return is a good thing all the way around. Sometimes things happen for a reason. Many thanks, Laura!
Lovely post, Jennie. I can only imagine how your heart swelled when watching these children engage ♥
Thank you, Tina!
This is interesting to me, as we don’t have anything like it in our schools. No patriotic songs are sung, and no flags displayed. It was the same 60 years ago, when I was in my first year at school. In Britain, it seems that such patriotism is regarded (by the authorities at least) as embarrassing, or inappropriate, and children are not made aware of it, in the same way as in America.
Even our national flag is often taken to be a racist symbol these days.
Perhaps it is a legacy of our rather shameful colonial past.
Best wishes, Pete.
I’m surprised, and a little sad. How you you honor your soldiers? I think of WWII and the lives lost. America cannot imagine a war fought on our own soil (except for the Civil War). And, patriotic songs? Schools sing “God Save the Queen”, right? The concern over racism is the same here. Some states are removing historic statues for the same reason. Terrible. For the record, Americans do not regard Britain’s colonial past as shameful at all. I think we have much to learn, and Britain sets a good example in many ways.
I remember learning patriotic songs at a young age. I also learned the Pledge of Allegiance. What a lovely idea to have a soldier come to talk to the children!
Jennie, Thank you for a beautiful post!
You are welcome. I’m glad you liked it!
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Thank you, Sally!
Such a lovely way to celebrate Memorial Day, Jennie
Thank you, Robbie!
What a beautiful way to teach children about the brave, courage, and self-less men and women who have given their lives for democracy and freedom.
Thank you, Karen!
You are doing a wonderful service for these children. To learn early that freedom isn’t free. I grew up on military bases and did not understand that until much later. We did the pledge and sang the songs but rarely connected the dots. You are doing good work here.
Thank you, Marlene. Connecting the dots…I like those words. Best to you!
What wonderful things for the children to learn. Learning through music is indeed very special. Music speaks straight to the heart.
Yes, it certainly does!
Nice, I’m sure they’ll remember the soldier visiting for many years to come!
Thank you, Marcia!
I do not know how you do it, but you just keep on amazing me with all your wonderful experiences with children.
I thank you once again for who you are and the hearts you have touched.
Thank you, Ren. I feel lucky to have these wonderful experiences with children!
blessed is more like it 😀