Ways to Teach Your Kids How and Why They Should Honor Veterans
There are 18.2 million living American veterans. That is almost eight percent of our population. These men and women have sacrificed so much for us to be able to have the freedoms that we do. After all they have done for us, we dedicate one day a year to them. It is our duty to honor vets and their sacrifices, and to teach children to do the same. It can feel overwhelming, especially for kids to think about that kind of stuff. But it does not have to be that complicated. Often times, it’s the simplest gestures of kindness and gratitude, which help a veteran feel appreciated. Here are just a few ways to help your kids this Veteran’s Day.
Teach Kids The History of Veteran’s Day
Often children look over Veteran’s Day as a day they get off of school. They really do not register what it means. It is important for kids to know why we celebrate when we do and who we are celebrating. You don’t need to take your child through all of American war history for them to be able to understand the holiday. You can teach your child in simple ways.
Start by telling them that we celebrate the holiday on November 11th every year. Then, explain to them why. WWI involved most of the countries in the world fighting on one side or another. They fought really hard and a lot of people died fighting and the war destroyed a lot of things. Then finally, on November 11th all of the countries signed a peace treaty. So they called this day Armistice Day. This war was thought to be the war that ended all wars and that was something to celebrate. Unfortunately, that was not the case and another war happened. So the name was changed to Veteran’s Day, to honor those who fought in the war.
Then, you can explain to your child what a veteran is. Many children confuse this often. Explain to them that a veteran is anyone who has honorably served in the military. You can use this chance to teach them about the five branches of the military. Kids love to be quizzed on this. Explain the difference between an active-duty soldier and a veteran. Remind them that on
Veteran’s Day, we celebrate those veterans who are still living. There is a separate day, Memorial Day, where we honor those who have died. It is important that you teach your children that a veteran or soldier does not mean a person with a gun shooting bad guys. There is a wide variety of military jobs and each of them is equally important.
Show Children the Veteran’s Around Them
Part of teaching children about the holiday is telling them about the Veterans around them. Tell them of any family member or close friend that is a veteran. Children get excited and want to hear stories from them. If there are no veterans close to your family, tell them of one of their friend’s parents or siblings that is a veteran or active-duty service member. It can help kids realize that veterans are all around them. Teach them to wave and smile when they see someone in uniform. Teach them the importance of thanking them for their service.
Another very important topic to teach children is about the hardships that veterans go through. It can be hard to explain this aspect of things to a child, but it is very necessary. You may want to hold off on certain topics until they are a little older. Start by telling them the hardships veterans went through when they were in service. Explain that they were in really dangerous conditions. Tell them that they had to be away from their families for really long periods of time and couldn’t talk to them much. Older veterans didn’t even get to talk on the phone.
Slowly get into how that affects them after they finally come home. Explain that it can be really hard for many soldiers to adjust back to a normal lifestyle after so many years of service. This can be lightly touched on by explaining that it can be hard for many vets to get jobs because they are not very qualified for things outside of the military, meaning that many veterans end up homeless. You can explain PTSD to children by telling them that veterans often have really bad nightmares about the things that they went through while serving in war.
It is so important to teach children about these sacrifices that these men and women have made for our freedom. This will help your child be compassionate and appreciative of veterans.
Send A Care Package
One way to teach children to be appreciative of veterans and their sacrifices is to teach them to serve themselves. No, this does not mean pressure your kid into enlisting when they turn eighteen. Just encourage them to be of service to those who are or who have. A great way for you and your child to do this is to send a care package to a veteran or someone who is still serving.
There are a few different ways you can get started with this. First, you have to decide who you are going to send a care package to. Think of anyone you know who is a veteran. It could be a family member, friend, someone at your child’s school, or even someone at your church. If you cannot think of anyone, you can get a veteran’s information from your local VA medical facility.
When thanking a veteran with a care package, it does not necessarily need to be American themed or anything or the sort. The contents are not as important as the action. Try sending a tin of Mrs.Fields Cookies with a note thanking them for their service. There are great online options for sending gourmet care packages that include personalized notes. If you do not want to send a premade package, opt to make one yourself. Pick up a few things to throw in a gift basket or even just bake a cake. Veterans just like to know that they are appreciated.
If you decide to send a care package to someone on active duty, the procedure is a little bit different. These men and women are in conflict areas and have real needs. The most requested item is $25 Visa gift cards. This is how soldiers pay for wifi to get on the satellite for personal communications to home. Other highly requested items are personal hygiene-related like wet wipes, disposable razors, chapstick, body wash, lotion, face wash, mouth wash, deodorant, Q-tips, shampoo, conditioner, etc. Posters and calendars are needed for “dressing the place up”. You can also send USB thumb drives with downloaded TV or movies. This is really the only way soldiers can view this stuff.
Packing these items is very important. Care goods that aren’t packed right ruins everything in the box. You must double-bag individual liquid and gel items. Soap has to be bagged or it ruins the taste of the food items. You can send packages to an organization like Support Our Troops, where they fulfill soldier requests or you can obviously send a package to someone you know. Whenever sending a care package to a veteran or someone on active duty, you always have to send a note or card thanking them for their service. This sentence may be simple, but it packs a punch. Have your children write their own note, it will put a smile on someone’s face. If you are sending overseas, include a photo of you and your child. Soldiers like to see the faces they are fighting for and the people behind the packages.