blog post by Mrs. Regina Shinners, grade 6-8 English and History
This year for the first time in a long time I was not at school for Veteran’s Day. Truthfully, I did not give missing that day a second thought. I knew that it would be like many previous Veteran’s Days, the local VFW post would visit the school to announce the Patriot’s Pen Essay winners- which I already knew who had won- and local veterans would come to visit with the students. What I did not expect was the impact that of missing that day would have on me. It was not until after seeing the videos and pictures of the day that I realized I had missed out. I missed out on celebrating my students whom I am so proud of; I missed out on celebrating my colleague, Peter Close, on his award. But ultimately I missed out on the opportunity to say “Thank You” to the few who fought for the many.
About five years ago I had my students participate in their very first Patriot’s Pen Essay contest. The students were not thrilled at first! But I explained that I had numerous relatives who had served and this was a great way to honor their service. Once the students thought about it they began to realize they knew many who had served. However, I was not expecting to find out that we were the only school submitting essays to the local post. I also could not have imagined the joy that it brought to the post. That first year I think I only submitted 16 essays- I limited it to the 7th and 8th grade classes- but that was more than they had ever received.
The VFW’s first visit to the school was wonderful. The veterans and the members of the Ladies Auxiliary felt welcome and respected by our school community. With each passing year the number of veterans who come to the school has grown to include not only veterans but also active members of the National Guard. Our reputation has preceded us and in a world where veterans and active military are not often treated with respect we are a respite for them.
However, there was a change this year. The number of veterans attending this year declined and while we were concerned for our aging population it was pointed out to us that many are out visiting other schools. While I am thankful that other schools are finally figuring out what we already knew- I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed. But I take comfort in knowing that the veterans will always know that they are welcome and celebrated here at BJAMS.