Our pen-pal returned home from Afghanistan!
It was quite a reunion. After many months of corresponding with each other- sending giant letters, pictures, drawings, and care packages- Sergeant Curran walked into my classroom to meet the children. They were so quiet at first. Perhaps it was the uniform. Or maybe it was simply the moment; a dream that became a reality. I was choked up. A big hug broke the ice and Sergeant Curran joined the group of children to shake hands and give hugs. We asked him so many questions! Then, we presented him with a copy of his favorite childhood book, Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, signed by all the children. We then asked him to read the book aloud.
Now, that was wonderful!
It got better and better.
There’s nothing quite like singing a patriotic song, especially to a member of our military in uniform. We sang “Red, White, and Blue” and “God Bless America” to Sergeant Curran. Now the tables were turned, and he was the quiet one. Watching young children stand with their hands on their heart, belting out a favorite patriotic song, was a ‘moment’ for our pen-pal.
We had six American flags to plant in our school’s Memory Garden. They were from the Memorial Day Remembrance, held indoors due to the rain. It was fitting that Sergeant Curran would have the honor of planting the flags, alongside the children.
It is interesting that children understand the significance of our Memory Garden. While it is part of the playground, it holds painted rocks among beautiful flowers, marking classroom pets that have died. It holds stepping stones and a statue to remember children who have died. American flags fly there to honor our military and remember those who have served.
I don’t take children to the Memory Garden as a lesson; I simply talk and answer questions when children are there, whether it is in curiosity of the painted rocks, or in the quiet solitude of just being there. Children know. They feel, and want to learn and understand. I need to be there when that happens. The circle of life.
And, our pen-pal gave new life to the Memory Garden. The American flags were planted with great respect.
It was a wonderful day! Thank you Sergeant Curran for all you do, and for being our pen-pal. The children will forever remember you.