Is it just me or has Veteran’s Day become increasingly significant since 9/11? Maybe I just don’t recall any meaningful acknowledgment of the day when I was a child, but then again I don’t remember seeing active service men and women in every airport across the country every time I travel. The fact is that with Iraq and Afghanistan, the central role that our US Armed Forces plays in the life of our nation cannot and should not be ignored.
Two years ago we realized that we had an obligation to recognize the heroism of veterans and active service men and women at The Davis Academy. We sent an invitation to our school family inviting veterans to join us at our weekly Kabbalat Shabbat closest to Veteran’s Day so that we could honor them and offer a blessing on their behalf.
We did so again this year.
During the ceremony we asked our veterans to share a few words. One of our veterans took a moment to remind our children how meaningful the simple act of thanking the men and women in uniform they’ll be seeing as they travel for Thanksgiving.
After the ceremony, which had many people in tears, I reflected on how natural and authentic it feels to honor these heroic men and women. Our veterans and active service men and women risk all for the sake of securing our freedom, comfort, and way of life. Kids of all ages totally understand this and have complete respect for veterans and active service men and women.
As part of our ceremony today we used a beautiful blessing written by Rabbi Yonina Creditor.
At our middle school this year we reflected on Veterans Day by using a four corners activity during tefila. We asked students to rate their level of agreement with the following statements:
1. War is never justified.
2. We can never repay the debt we owe to our veterans.
3. Peace cannot be achieved through war.
Hearing their thoughtful remarks and watching them take a stand on these complicated topics reminded the adults in attendance that peace and war are complicated topics. With age comes nuance, inquiry, and deep reflection.
However, when standing in the presence of those who have served our country with the utmost courage and integrity, there is no doubt that we can never repay the debt we owe to our veterans.