It's Veteran's Day. Some people and places call it Remembrance Day; others call it Armistice Day. Whatever it is, it's traditionally used to commemorate World War I veterans. I remember reading the article last year when the last surviving American WWI veteran died and thinking that it was rather sad. However, I didn't have any relatives who served in the Great War, so it doesn't really hit home for me. I can teach the children about it, but there's no family connection.
Sometime in the next week, though, the kids and I will sit down and discuss family members who fought (one died) in World War II. Even though all those who fought in this war as part of our family have passed, I still find it relevant and therefore easier to teach. My husband's great-grandfather (yes, great-grandfather, I do have my generations correct) died in the Battle of Sunda Strait while serving on the HMAS Perth. He was only 34 - a year older than my husband is now - and had two young children at home. We have his medals, so I can share those with the children. Two of my grandmother's brothers served in WWII as well; one was in the Pacific theater and the other in the European. The one who was serving in Europe was meant to have taken part in the D-Day invasion. However, he wound up in the hospital for various reasons and had to miss the landing. Lucky for him, perhaps, but since he was heavily sedated, his parents, sisters and brother didn't hear from him. They had known he was going to be part of a big offensive, and they didn't know he'd wound up in the hospital, so when they didn't hear from him, they assumed he was dead. A week or two after D-Day was over and folks all around the country/world were getting bad news, they received a letter from him saying that he was alive and well! I can't even imagine the relief.
Anyway, all these things are part of the family heritage. My dad and his seven brothers still aren't sure how none of them got called up during Vietnam, and nobody in our immediate family served in Korea, either. I have a cousin who's been in the Navy for several years, but really, ours isn't a military family. Still, I want the kids to know how people served in years past and still serve today. I want them to recognize that military service is a tough row to hoe. We may not have any veterans in the family to thank personally, but we know a lot of military families. So here's to you, veterans and families. May you never be forgotten.