Veterans Day is a Teachable Moment

Dear Dr. Linda,

I read your column last year about Veterans Day. I would like to see that same column so that parents and teachers can use it to share with their children.

Like the fifth-grade teacher who wrote to you last year, I feel it’s important for children to stop what they’re doing and think about the men and women who protect our country. That’s the purpose of Veterans Day. I teach fourth grade and each year I have each child in my class write a little story about someone they know, a family member or friend of the family, who served in the armed forces. Then, each child reads their story to the class. These brave men and women need to be thanked and appreciated.

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Ms. Clark

Dear Ms. Clark,

I’m more than happy to share the column again.

Many children don’t understand what Veterans Day is and if they do, they probably don’t talk about it as a family. It seems easy to ignore Veterans Day, especially in years when it comes right after Election Day. Too many solemn holidays such as Memorial Day and Labor Day have become more associated with store sales and days off from school. In addition, they lack the emotional impact associated with food or being together with family and friends like Thanksgiving and Fourth of July.

Here’s what I’d tell children about Veterans Day:

Veterans Day is a public holiday which occurs annually Nov. 11. We now honor all the men and women who are either in service now or have served in the U.S. armed forces, but the original purpose of the holiday was to honor only those who are now retired or discharged.

Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day because it commemorated the day World War I came to an end and a ceasefire with Germany went into effect—at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. It was created to honor those who died in that war. In 1954, after the Korean War ended, the name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day by President Eisenhower, expanding the holiday to honor veterans of all wars.

As I said before, the holiday honors all men and women serving in the armed forces both now and in the past. Some confuse the purpose of Veterans Day with that of Memorial Day, always the last Monday in May. Memorial Day was established to honor those men and women who have died while serving their country.

The spelling of Veterans Day is interesting. While many ads and calendars write it in possessive case using an apostrophe—Veteran’s Day or Veterans’ Day—that’s incorrect. The website for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says not to use an apostrophe at all. They state that it is not a day that belongs to veterans, but a day for honoring all veterans.

To help your children understand Veterans Day, take them to the parade in your town or city. Go to some of the ceremonies. Talk about family members who may have served in the armed forces. Show them pictures of family members in uniform. Did anyone in your family die in war while serving our country? Talk about what they did. If you are in the military or are in a military family, talk with your children about the importance of the job you or your spouse does for both you and all of the citizens of our country.

In thanks for the commitment of all who have served,

Dr. Linda

If you have a question about how to help your child succeed in school, call or email Dr. Linda at 845-628-7910; she’d love to help you. You can also visit her store at If you’re looking for the “funnest reading program in the whole wide world,” visit her newest website,

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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