Veterans Day Lesson from the Heart
November 11, 2008
Veterans Day a Chance to Help Students Make Connections
Understanding who veterans are and what they did for their country is not always easy for young children to grasp, but 3rd-graders at Traut Core Knowledge Elementary learned those lessons from a veteran they know personally. Third-grade teacher Robert Langford shared his experiences with students in honor of Veterans Day.
A 10-year Army veteran, Langford served on a humanitarian and peacekeeping mission in Somalia, Africa, in 1993. Using his photos, memorabilia and scrapbook, Langford explained to his students where Somalia is, why he was stationed there and what soldiers in his unit did.
“My main purpose in telling you about my own experiences is to help all of you make a connection with veterans, especially veterans from your own families,” he said. “Did anyone bring a photo today?”
“I have a picture of my grandpa to put on the bulletin board,” 3rd-grader Andrew Cronin said. “Papa was a full bird colonel in the Air Force and worked for space command.”
Langford added the photo to a wall-sized display covered with photos of fathers, uncles, grandfathers and even one grandmother who served in various branches of the military in many different campaigns. Some photos showed a family member dressed in uniform; other photos showed family members relaxing in civilian clothes.
Langford returned to his scrapbook and told the children more about Somalia, adding colorful details about stores, transportation, roads, animals and people he met while stationed there. The students listened intently to his stories, touched his badges and memorabilia, and asked questions about his unit and fellow soldiers.
“Were there any girls in your company?” asked Kelsey Morris, a 3rd-grade girl.
“Yes, women were in my company and they drove forklifts, were cooks and performed many other jobs,” Langford answered with
“Did you have to have a passport to go to Somalia?” Cronin asked.
“No, we didn’t need passports because were deployed by the Army,” Langford said.
Sharing family photos and stories is just one way the Traut 3rd-graders will connect with veterans this fall. The class will soon write and mail Christmas letters to soldiers stationed in other parts of the world.