The month of May is National Military Appreciation Month, which includes VE Day (8th), Military Spouse Appreciation Day (11th), Armed Forces Day (19th), and Memorial Day (30th). Because most holidays commemorating historical military events have become little more than three-day weekends lacking focus on their original purpose, this month is needed to remind us of the contributions and sacrifices that have been made by the men and women who have served throughout more than 230 years of our nation’s history.
America’s soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen do not hesitate to answer the call when asked to willingly risk their lives on a moment’s notice. Whether it’s the mosquito-infested jungles at Guadalcanal, the frozen tundra on the Korean Peninsula, the muddy rice paddies in Vietnam, the sandy desert near the Persian Gulf, or the mountains of Afghanistan – wherever and whenever they are called to serve, they go. In general, military people do not choose to serve because they have great expectations of fame or reaping huge rewards from military service. Most are ordinary citizens with simple motives – honor, duty, and love of country – and most ask for nothing in repayment of their sacrifices.
As a nation, we observe a wide variety of national cultural and social awareness events through mass media attention and educational curriculum. However, we don’t always allocate appropriate recognition of our military, which has has played such a major role in American history. Schools no longer teach those military events that turned the course of history. Many students are neither aware of, nor value and understand, the service given by their own family members, many of whom are of the “Greatest Generation.” We are slowly losing our connection to our own past. Names like Continental Army, Civil War, San Juan Hill, Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Normandy, and Tet Offensive are rapidly losing their significance to the general population, particularly our future generations – our youth.
The purpose of National Military Appreciation Month should be to educate elementary and secondary school students about the contributions and sacrifices made by veterans. George Washington said, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” As we honor those patriots of the past who have given their lives in defense of the freedoms we all enjoy today, let us also recognize the heroes of the present. When you see a person in a military uniform, shake their hand and say “thank you for serving our country!” Finally, don’t forget to pray for our military personnel who are currently on active duty.
Military Appreciation Month Activities
Most people probably know someone – a grandfather, uncle, father, brother, friend – who fought in a war or otherwise served in the armed forces. Invite a veteran to share his or her personal experiences with your school or group. Many veterans have exceptional first-person accounts of what defending liberty really means. (If you don’t know a veteran, your local American Legion or VFW post may be able to recommend one in your area who would be willing to speak.) You may also want to do some research to find out about your ancestors who served in the armed forces. Perhaps you will find some who date back to the Civil War or even the American Revolution!
Display the American flag this month to show your patriotism and support for our troops. Visit a National Memorial Cemetery. Watch a patriotic movie. Create a patriotic poster. Recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Sing the National Anthem and other patriotic songs. Send a letter, card, e-mail, or care package to a soldier. If you have an APO or other military mailing address of a loved one serving overseas, you may write letters and assemble your own care package to be sent via regular US Mail to your service member. If not, you may wish to make your contribution through one of the following organizations:
See also: www.HomeschoolPatriot.com
Did You Know…? The National Park Service’s “Teaching with Historic Places” program has developed more than 130 classroom-ready lesson plans that cover major themes of American history, including Military & Wartime History.