A Memorial Day Remembrance

We have a Memory Garden at school on the playground, and it is oh so lovely. Children often stop to look, or just “be”.  Somehow they understand that it is a special place. Classroom pets who have died are buried with markers. Children who are now in heaven have a special statue or stone so they can be remembered.  The Memory Garden was the venue for our Memorial Day Remembrance.

It came to life with the planting of American flags, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Sergeant Curran, our pen-pal from Afghanistan, is back home- he was the proud guest of honor.  All the children and staff were there, along with a host of parents and guests.

We opened with The Pledge of Allegiance.  My class was honored to hold the big American flag and sing “God Bless America” as we wore our flag hats.  I doubt many children have witnessed a service member saluting the flag. Sergeant Curran did, with a demeanor that gave me and others a lump in the throat.

Seargent Curran spoke to the crowd.  He told the story of the white star:

“When I was in Afghanistan I carried a white star in my pocket, right here (patting the uniform pocket over his heart).  The star is just like the ones on the flag you’re holding.  Do you know the blue box in the post office for people to donate old flags?  There is a group who takes those flags and cuts out the stars. They send those stars to our military who are stationed overseas.

I always carried my star.  It reminded me of home. It reminded me of why I serve.  It made me feel proud to be an American.”

Each class led the crowd in singing a patriot song.  We sang, “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Red, White, and Blue”.  Then, the Yellow Room children sang “God Bless the USA”. When they sang the line, “And I gladly stand up, next to you…” every child pointed both fingers with outstretched arms directly at Sergeant Curren, when they said the word YOU. That line is part of the chorus, and the chorus is repeated many times in the song.  That means the YOU finger pointing thankfully happened many times.  Not many dry eyes.

Next, a child from each class helped Sergeant Curran to plant an American flag in the Memory Garden, and he planted one on his own.  Who knew that nearly a hundred children could be so quiet.  They understood with respect and responded with solemn faces.

Finally, Sergeant Curran shook hands with each and every child.  What a treat for the children!  Here is a partial clip of that:

The Remembrance was over, yet what happened after all the thank yous and goodbyes was perhaps the highlight of the day.  A little boy, Jared, and his mother came to personally thank Sergeant Curran.    Low and behold, the sergeant reached into his pocket and presented Jared with a patch.  He didn’t realize how important that patch would be to Jared until he heard the mother’s story:

“Jared has one other patch which he treasures.  You see, last year he had a very difficult time at school.  I finally had to pull him out and home school him.  Whenever he had a bad day, he would go and get his patch.  That was what helped him get through the tough times.  And now, you are giving him a patch.  I can’t begin to tell you how much this means.  Thank you!”

The tears flowed.  Jared just beamed.  Then, we all had snack together.

Thank you, Sergeant Curran.  Thank you for today, and thank you for your service.  Never forget.  You make me proud.

Jennie

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in American flag, Early Education, Giving, Kindness, military, patriotism, Peace, Singing, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to A Memorial Day Remembrance

  1. Ritu says:

    Wonderful ! Xx

  2. Darlene says:

    What a special day for everyone. Children remember these things.

  3. What a perfect way to remember those who gave so much including Sgt Curran.

  4. Deirdre Huff says:

    Thank you Jennie for inviting our son Curran to be part of your celebration. The support, love and encouragement that he received from all of you at GCC while he was deployed will never be forgotten.

  5. Dan Antion says:

    This is a wonderful way to celebrate this important holiday.

  6. What a wonderful way to celebrate this memorial in memory of our brave soldiers who risked their lives daily and many have given their life for our Freedom and our way of life – Democracy. Thank you Jennie!

  7. Oh, Jennie! I can’t stop the tears to write this. This holiday is harder on me than any other in the year. I love how you present this to those children. I watched the video several times. Thank you for sharing how you see Memorial Day. It helps so much.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad to hear that this was meaningful for you, Marlene. I shed many tears, too. I watched the video at least eight times, sometimes watching Sergeant Curran, and sometimes watching the children. Different perspectives. Yes, how it is presented to the children makes all the difference in the world. It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. Memorial Day is so important!

      Here is another part of the day that I didn’t write in the post, as it was already long:

      After snack with Sergeant Curran, the children were a little over the top (wild and crazy?). So, I gathered everybody to read a book, Peter Spier’s “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As soon as I read the first page, Lucca blurted out, “Jennie, sing the book.” All the children shouted “Yes!” So, I sang the entire book for Sergeant Curran, every verse. His dad was there, too. When we got to the page that depicts the cemetery in Normandy, Clint (dad) was so moved, because his Dad was there…. the children know that page and we talk about it every time we read/sing the book. There was much more as we sang this book. What a special moment. Never forget.

      Tomorrow I want to watch my favorite WWII black and white movies on TV.

  8. srbottch says:

    Jennie, a most wonderful Memorial Day story. It’s reassuring to see that spirit in the schools. Is your school a public school? Keep up the good work. Happy Memorial Day!

  9. srbottch says:

    Jennie, Sgt. Curran is a wonderful asset to your classroom. I bet he shook the hands of a future Sergeant in your group.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Steve. He is wonderful. And yes, I think he shook the hand of a future Sergeant. Jayden, the boy at the end of the video comes to mind. His face looking up at Sergeant Curran is priceless.

  10. John Kraft says:

    Wonderful

    Thank you for doing this.

  11. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This is a beautiful post from Jennie.

  12. Wow, this story gave me goosebumps Jennie. It’s one you will never forget! 🙂

  13. beetleypete says:

    Another magical moment from your school, and an inspiration to everyone, even a foreigner like me. Those children are being taught that your Memorial Day is about so much more than barbecues and beer, and they will never forget it, I’m sure.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  14. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Jennie Fitzkee shares her classes and school tribute on Memorial Day with their special pen pal from Afghanistan Sergeant Curran. Even though we have different days to honour those who serve and have served in our armed forces, we can all share in saying thank you. Lovely post.. take tissues.

  15. Norah says:

    This is a beautiful post, Jennie, though I almost didn’t get through it, thinking of the sadness of children’s lives lost. We should not be losing children. Nor should we lose so many servicemen and women, but we are deeply appreciative of the sacrifice they make. I enjoyed hearing about Sergeant Curran’s star patch. Surely meeting with their special serviceman in this way will encourage the children to develop a deeper appreciation of all they do for us.

  16. GP Cox says:

    It was a gracious and thoughtful Sgt. to come and be with the children. I wish I could throw this video in the faces of our nay-sayers to prove exactly what makes up our troops and our country!!

  17. Oh Jennie, what a marvelous day you made. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    I hadn’t heard of the white star. Hugs.

  18. How lovely that your pen pal could visit you all, Jennie, and share such a lovely story. Your memorial garden is beautiful.

  19. Sounds and looks great! Thank you for sharing with us. Michael

  20. dgkaye says:

    A beautiful tribute post Jennie. So inspiring how young the little ones are learning to honor those who fight for their country. God bless. 🙂

  21. Tina Frisco says:

    I’m glad the tissues were handy, Jennie. I’d have needed a box-full had I been there. Every time I read one your posts, I’m filled with promise for the future. You inspire your students to be compassionate, creative, grateful, and to become the best they can be. You inspire them to shine ❤️

  22. Lyn Horner says:

    Beautiful, touching story. Thank you for reminding us what today is really about. It’s not just a day for picnics and family outings. May we remember all the men and women who fight and sometimes die to protect our freedom.

  23. I’m so proud of you and your class. I wish all children could have a meaningful remembrance of Memorial Day. Thank you from all of us for remembering the men and women who have died for the freedoms we take so lightly.

    • Jennie says:

      That is so nice, Dayne. Thank you for your kind words. I wish all children could have a Remembrance, too. I never had that as a child; perhaps that makes it important for me to pass on to children.

  24. No dry eyes, or clear throat here either. What a wonderful, wonderful experience! Sergeant Curran is Amazing!

  25. Ah…you spoiled the secret: we are here on this earth to lift each other up! (one star, one patch, one soldier at a time….) Beautiful post! And now I know all about that box in the post office! Stand by for more flags….more stars…

  26. Oh Jennie, reading this story so touched my heart and I had to take a minute to let the tears clear.. What a brilliant post and a wonderful thing Sergeant Curran did in giving that little boy his star.. Such a wonderful gesture that I know will be forever treasured..
    Thank you for the beautiful pictures and video i have yet to watch and for the special memories you helped create in another wonderful tribute I have read today on your Memorial Day…
    Love and Blessings.
    Sue ❤

  27. I’m back ….Loved the video, and that special handshake to the three at the end.. 🙂 ❤

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