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Veteran’s Day

This is a difficult post for me to write.  In addition to having been sick the last week, I always have a little trouble putting into words my thoughts about Veteran’s Day.  I think others do as well, since most of the books for children either go for a purely patriotic angle or veer towards the meaning of Memorial Day.

Just between us adults, I suspect sometimes it is easier to honor dead soldiers than to respect the sacrifice of our live ones.  My husband is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He has left active duty and has a civilian job but also continues to serve in the National Guard.  Although he has integrated well back into civilian society, there are those of his fellow soldiers who have not.  As a society, we lay wreathes at the graves our departed soldiers but we don’t seem to know what to do with those who are still around and remind us of by their presence of so many complicated questions:

Why do so few serve? Why must the few sacrifice for the many? Why do we go to war at all? What does it mean to have people home from battle in our society, warrior skills honed in combat? What do we owe those who have served.

All that is difficult enough for adults to get a handle on, let alone children.

I’m a strong believer in simplifying things for children without ever dumbing them down so I really struggled with this for a while.  When I taught high school, it was a little easier to tackle some of these more complex issues (if you have or teach a child over 10, see below for some ideas).

In the end, my four year old daughter solved the problem for me with a simple question.  She say Veteran’s Day marked on our calendar and asked me, “What is Veteran’s Day?”

I told her it is a day we thank people who are soldiers, like Daddy, for their service.  She already knows that Daddy puts on a uniform and goes to “Army work” to help keep us safe.

She asked, “How are we going to thank Daddy on Veteran’s Day?”

We decided since Daddy likes to read, we would decorate bookmarks for him.


  • poster board / oaktag
  • clear laminate paper
  • red and blue markers, crayons, glitter, and/or stickers
  • cord
  • alphabet beads and other decorative beads (we used red, silver, and blue stars)


1. Cut a bookmark shape from posterboard and decorate with red, white and blue.

2. Cover the bookmarks in clear contact paper / laminate paper and trim.

3. Punch a hole at the top of the bookmark and string in cord.

4. Spell out your message. We used, “Thank You”.

5. String the beads in order.

6. Give to your favorite veteran or work with a group of kids to create a dozen or more bookmarks and bring them to a nearby VA Center.

You could also laminate these scrap paper mosaic American flags as placemats:

Books About Veteran’s Day:

Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion, by Jane Barclay, depicts a young boy watching his grandfather prepare to march in a parade for Canada’s Remembrance Day. Although some of the book focuses on the comrade in arms his grandfather lost, the store also highlights his grandfather’s feelings about having served. The animal imagery makes this book more accessible for a younger child without glossing over the more difficult emotions of a military veteran.

Memorial Day Surprise, by Theresa Golding, is about a Memorial Day parade but the highlight of the parade for young Marco is seeing his abuelo, a military veteran. The exuberance of the parade helps capture some of the pride of services.

H Is for Honor: A Millitary Family Alphabet (Alphabet Books), by David Scillian, is a good introduction to the modern day importance of our military and the service of our troops.

Educational Connections:

  • History / Geography: Who in your extended family served in the military? Did any of them serve overseas? Find their military posts or deployment locations on the map or globe.  If possible, ask to view their uniforms and medals.
  • History (for older students): Create a timeline of 20th-century military conflicts.  Include photographs and other illustrations to highlight a theme that draws upon the student’s interest (technological developments, changes in uniform, social changes).
  • History (for older students): Start an oral history project to record the stories of local veterans.
  • Music: Study the music that has been popular for both soldiers and for the people back at home during the various conflicts of the 20th century.
  • Film (for older students): Watch war documentaries or movies set during military conflicts and consider how these films reflect the experience of the soldiers and the attitudes of the society and the filmmaker towards war and the conflict depicted.
  • Volunteer / Service: Visit a Veterans’ Home or Hospital and help decorate the rec room, sing songs, play games, or read to the Veterans there, based on the needs of the facility and the age of your group.

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Written by

Candace Lindemann, Yale, BA, Harvard Graduate School of Education, EdM, is an educational consultant and published writer. She enjoys new learning experiences with her children, ages 6 and 4 and 1.5.

Filed under: 3-5 (Preschool), 3-5 (Preschool), 3-5 (Preschool), 5-6 (Kindergarten), 5-6 (Kindergarten), 5-6 (Kindergartners), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 6-8 (Early Elementary), 9-11 (Elementary), Featured, History and Culture · Tags: , ,

7 Responses to "Veteran’s Day"

  1. I really, really like the idea of a “thank you” gift for a veteran – nice!

  2. JDaniel4's Mom says:

    I love the book The Wall, but JDaniel won’t understand it yet. We just made a photo album of his grandfather who fought in World War II.

  3. Candace says:

    I picked that one up from the library but is more of a Memorial Day selection and also don’t want to terrify my daughter–I can only imagine the tears every time DH leaves for drill!

    A photo album is a great idea–I should get organized and do that next year with the kids, they’d love it!

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  7. Just sayin' says:

    One thing to remember about Veterans day… should mostly be a HAPPY celebration….not honoring the dead so much. Veterans feel Memorial Day is to honor those that have passed and Veterans day is to celebrate the heroes who keep and have made our country safe.

    I too, was once guilty of making it a somber event. It can have some reverence but it should mostly be a proud celebration!

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