Anyone who thinks Iowa isn't culturally diverse should have been at Aaron's middle school assembly this morning with me. I wonder how many different countries unite in the student population there. I saw Burundi, Burma, Liberia, Sudan, Bosnia...I'm sure I couldn't guess as to the others.
The school had a really nice Veteran's Day assembly that began with the presentation of the colors by a group of Boy Scouts. Veterans were asked to stand and be recognized. The National Anthem was sung and they did a bang-up job doing it. The 7th and 8th grade chorus sang the songs of each branch of service: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force in that order.
There were several student recitations, which mostly I looked on as an excellent opportunity for public speaking, which is a chore so many hate. But for those of us who learn to do it, and even love it, it creates confidence and can open doors of opportunity later in life. (I'm convinced of this, although no one has ever beaten down my door begging me to go on a speaking circuit, so maybe I'm wrong) As I'm listening to the recitations about the flag, the bald eagle and the Statue of Liberty, I'm admiring these kids.
Particularly keeping in mind they're standing in front of middle school peers. What a nightmare.
When it came time for the last recitation, this Army brat perked up. A young man named Dalton had written about his father, who is currently deployed...again...in the Middle East.
I've often thought there should be a little something for the military dependents of the world. If your parent was career military, you know a thing or two about military life and sacrifice. For instance, when they ask veterans to stand while their service's song is played, I think maybe we should be allowed to stand up as well.
No, the children didn't put their lives on the line, but they let mom or dad (mostly dads when you're my age) go away and these days even young children seem to know the parent may not return. I also think widows (or widowers) should be recognized.
No man is an island and all that, you know? It takes a family to send a soldier to war.
Dalton, a military kid in a completely civilian world, stood on the stage this morning and spoke proudly of his father's many deployments, his achievements and goals and his safety. He said, "My dad is in a secure location, so I don't worry so much about his safety." It's also the first time his dad has been away from home for Christmas.
At first, I thought, "Oh, please let his dad be here to surprise him." But then he said this time his dad has only been gone for a month so far.
I have so much respect for the children of the military these days. My dad was career Army, but we were civilians for a period of my childhood. My dad was never deployed into combat. So many kids today are surrounded by civilians while I was fortunate to be surrounded by military kids and families. I knew in the back of my mind that something could happen to my father or the other dads I knew. The Cold War was always a little threatening, but I didn't have to face an actual war.
Find some veterans today and thank them for their service, then remember to thank their family. After that, go find someone who let their mom or dad fight for their country and give the kid a big thank you!