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Suggestions for Celebrating Veterans Day

December 31st, 2012 Seasonal

For many Americans, November 11 has traditionally been a day to watch a Veterans Day parade and wave an American flag. However, there are more creative ways to honor active and former members of the U.S. armed services.

Get students involved
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) offers several suggestions for people who want to take their Veterans Day celebration up to the next level of patriotism - especially teachers.

Among these: a short concert where school musical groups perform patriotic songs, Veterans Day articles could be penned for the school newspaper and libraries could compile a recommended reading list for students interested in stories of military service or American history.

Gathering the whole school together for a parade and celebration is also a great idea. According the DVA, a totally proper Veterans Day Ceremony should begin with a flag-raising ceremony and a reading of the President's Veterans Day Proclamation or a different set of introductory remarks. Music, guest speakers and a principal speakers should all lead up to a moment of silence before the ceremony comes to a close.

Help children honor troops
Of course, a Veterans Day Ceremony might be a lot to sit through for little ones. With consideration for the lower attention spans and knowledge-levels of many children, the online information source Military.com recommends asking children to scribe short essays about how different nations show their appreciation for vets, or draw a picture signifying how Veterans Day makes them feel personally. They could also put together a poster to represent any relatives or family friends they know who have served.

Veterans could be invited to speak in classrooms to enlighten younger folks about their experiences in military service, and to emphasize the importance of celebrating Veterans Day. In fact, the History Channel set up its Take a Veteran to School Day in 2007, with these exact types of visits in mind.

Honoring veterans at work
Showing appreciation for veterans doesn't have to be regulated to November 11 alone. Although most places of business aren't open on Veterans Day, the History Channel website provides a guide suggesting methods for honoring veterans in the workplace, which could be done a day or two before the official holiday. A few words of thanks could be spoken during a morning employee gathering with snacks and coffee designated for appreciating vets, and e-mail messages of gratitude could be sent to veteran coworkers.

To cite a few examples offered by the HandsOn Network's blog, a pair of programs implemented by the military family nonprofit Blue Star Families allow citizens to send thank you cards to service members of the past and present, as well as their immediate family members. Through Operation Appreciation and Operation Honor Cards, appreciative Americans may be able to make a soldier's day without spending a lot of time or money.

Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden started the Joining Forces Initiative for educational and outreach pertaining to veterans issues, as does the AARP's Create the Good program.