I celebrated Veterans Day in class today with my students. I talked about my family and our service, talked about the millions of veterans who have given their lives so that we can live in freedom. My first comment was that I considered Veterans Day to be the most important holiday because it makes all the others possible. They got that.
One teacher walked his entire class down to mine and thanked me for my service. Each student shook my hand and thanked me. I was thrilled by that and it was hard to keep from crying. I've had almost every one of those students in class and that was one of the truly coolest things that has ever happened to me.
I don't often talk about my family in a personal way with my students, but they seemed to very much enjoy sharing my story with me. I told them I didn't do it because I wanted to be a hero, I did it because I wanted the service and sacrifice to be personal to them. I felt great pride in talking about my grandfather, my uncle, my father-in-law, and my father and their courageous service to America.
The message I wanted to leave them with was that they should be proud and above all, grateful to be Americans. Despite the constant drumbeat of negativism about our country, millions still flock to America because it is still seen as the true beacon of freedom. America is still the destination of the wretched refuse of the world who reach our teeming shores yearning to breathe free.
I think they got the message and they are grateful to be Americans. And so am I.