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Explaining Veteran’s Day to Kids

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Today is Veteran’s Day. A day full of parades, free services and goods for our military, speeches and remembrances. My family and I are headed into Boston to participate in these activities, and I’m excited for a day away from the computer and to show some American pride. But I also want to teach my kids the real meaning of Veteran’s Day (besides it just being a ‘home-day’ — they are only 4 and 6 so that’s what they are most focused on!). My first grader is learning about it in school, but the ideas are still a bit abstract and hard for him to grasp. So I went online for some tips on how to explain it in some kids terms, and how to get them involved in thanking our country’s finest:

1. Explain to them that a Veteran is a person who served in the military (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard) and that their job is to keep our country safe. A lot of kids don’t know that the military serves us both in the United States and in other countries — and that the troops give up a lot of time with their families and put themselves in dangerous situations in order to serve our country.

2. Ask them if they know a Veteran. My son’s teacher’s spouse was in the military, and the kids loved hearing about how she is married to a ‘hero’. If you don’t know any Veterans personally, just think back in your family a bit. Both my grandfathers were Veterans, and I’ll be telling my kids about them today.

3. Do something on Veteran’s Day to show your respect and gratitude — big or small. Check out this great list from Operation Gratitude (I love #8: donate your Halloween Candy!). They are in need of letters to troops which is a perfect family activity.

4. And lastly, remind your kids of Veterans throughout the year. Here’s a list of 101 Ways to Thank a Veteran. You can incorporate small gestures into your holiday traditions, or simply teach children to thank Veterans for their service.

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