“For the veteran, thank you for bravely doing what you’re called to do so we can safely do what we’re free to do.” ~ Unknown
Each year on November 11, a special assembly takes place where I work, to acknowledge Remembrance Day and the end of the First World War. We watch videos, perform music, recite poems, listen to guest speakers, and display wreaths decorated with paper poppies in order to honour the memories of those who fought, were injured, and those who died in that war. It is challenging for young children to imagine these events that happened so long ago, or people whose lives belonged to a time that took place before they were born. We try to instill in children that what they enjoy today – freedom, living in a safe country – is owed to people who gave up their lives for these things. We try to teach children to show respect, to feel gratitude, and to learn something about historical events that have shaped our lives today. There are those who continue to protect our rights and freedoms. Many of them end up losing their lives. Many are seriously injured, and hospitalized for a long time. They may experience profound loneliness. They too need to be acknowledged and remembered.
“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” ~ Maya Angelou
Recently I noticed an article on the Internet about Valentines for Veterans - a request for cheerful greeting cards and messages to be distributed to injured veterans receiving long-term care. I felt very moved by the article and decided to approach the children in my class with the idea of making some Valentines for this cause. I explained why I thought we should do this, with the understanding that our cards would go to people we would never meet. This would be a way to say thank you to them. It would be an act of kindness. It was a gesture that might brighten the day of many people. The enthusiastic response I got from the children made my heart glad. We made it our goal to create one hundred Valentines (approximately four hearts each), because as it happens, we are approaching the 100th day of school. Within one week we achieved our goal. The children used crayons to decorate paper hearts, and then applied a watercolour wash. They joined in counting the hearts, and rushed to the art table when we got to 97, because they really wanted to finish the last few. We felt a great sense of accomplishment when we achieved our goal!
As I prepare to put these beautiful cards in the mail, I want to add a few words on behalf of the children in my class. “We are thankful to the veterans for being very brave. We are thankful for their service. We are thankful to them for protecting Canada. We are thankful that we can live and grow up in a safe place. We are thankful for our freedom. We are thankful that veterans make Canada proud when they defend and help people in other parts of the world who might need protection. We are thankful for what veterans have given up for us. We hope you feel better. We hope that the Valentines that we made give you a smile, and let you know we are grateful, and that we care. We are sending them straight from our hearts to yours.”
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” ~ A.A. Milne