Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veterans Day: Incorporating Veterans into your Classroom

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War. This war, the so called "Great War" and “War to End All Wars” was officially over.  A year later, the day was commemorated as Armistice Day and would later be a legal federal holiday in the United States starting in 1938. It is because more wars would follow that Armistice Day would evolve into Veterans Day.  This evolution allows for all Veterans of all wars be honored. 
Vietnam Veteran Jack Deleshaw speaking to students
As a teacher, I have over the years attempted to invite Veterans into my classroom and school to speak to students.  Within my career, I have been honored to have Veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam speak.  At the beginning of my career, WWII veterans were easy to get, however, over the years I had to make the switch to Vietnam veterans.  It saddens me that we are losing so many members of this “Greatest Generation” daily.  I am lucky to have as many speak as I did.  For the last 12 years my school has coordinated a Vietnam Speaker Event for all 10th and 11th grade students.  This annual event has been replicated at other schools with great success.  

I have worked with the same Vietnam Veteran’s group for many years.  The Henry County wing of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association has always been good to my students, my school, and me. Each year, I have had between 10-12 Veterans take time out of their life to share experiences with students.  In 2011, my school was lucky enough to get Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Joe Marm speak.  Col. Marm was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Ia Drang. 

Medal of Honor Recipient Col. Joe Marm and Me
at the 2011 Vietnam Veteran Speaker Event.
 While Veterans Day is for all Veterans—Past and Present, the day should not be confused with Memorial Day.  This confusion is often made by my students.  Whereas, Memorial Day is to honor all service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans--living or dead.  Veterans Day is so that we can give thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.  

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