A Homeschooler’s Veterans Day Celebration
One of the most important holidays in America is Veterans Day. Why it doesn’t get more attention, I’ll never understand. This year, we decided to hold our own Veterans Day Celebration to give the kids a glimpse into the sacrifices our Veterans have made for our great country.
We sat down with the girls and compiled a list of all the veterans we know. We wanted to keep it fairly small and personal, so we kept it to our close family and then added in anyone that the girls suggested. Once our list had 17 names, we got started on the invitations for our Veterans Day Celebration.
The girls were in charge of every aspect of this event, so they looked up ideas for handmade invitations. They spent all day making hand print flags and filling in the details explaining the purpose of our lunch. In case you’re wondering, that’s a LOT of writing for a couple of kiddos!
I also included a handwritten note in all of the invites that read:
“It is very important to us as parents to teach our kids about the many sacrifices our veterans have made for this great country. Please come prepared to share your experiences with Miss Bookworm and Miss Manners. Feel free to bring any photos or anything else you wish to share with our future generations. We look forward to learning from you.”
We were super lucky that we didn’t have to spend a fortune on food. A local grocery store had a huge anniversary meat sale a few months ago. We just so happened to be camping that weekend, but my mom was gracious enough to fill our upright freezer with meat for us as a surprise! (Have I mentioned lately what a blessing my parents are to us?) She bought about 20 pork roast, for just $.49/lb! We used them to provide pulled pork sandwiches to our veterans.
During the summer, a farmer had brought several pallets of corn to the food pantry where my kids volunteer. They couldn’t give it all away, as the farmer had hoped, so Miss Manners had brought home a couple hundred ears of corn. We spent all day shucking and freezing that darn corn! We still had some left in our freezer, so we were able to serve that to our veterans as well.
We added in some deviled eggs, using eggs fresh from our chickens, baked beans and potato salad. It was a complete meal for very little cost!
My mother-in-law was kind enough to buy all the stuff for dessert. We met at her church the day before our lunch and the kiddos got busy baking. With both grandmas’ help, they were able to whip out 6 pies, a cherry dessert and some brownies! The girls did most of the work and were super proud of their dessert table. Everyone kept commenting on the cream of coconut pies. Apparently, the meringue was gorgeous.
-Our cherry delight!-
Fresh apple pie!
The clean up crew
Learning to separate egg whites
Pumpkin pies! Yumm-y!
Our first time ever making coconut cream pies! Only a little messy but oh-so-gorgeous!
While the desserts were cooling, the girls went to town on the decorations. We kept it fairly simple, using streamers, balloons and a red, white and blue paper chain.
The next day, we arrived early and finished all the preparations before our veterans arrived.
One by one, out heroes began filing in with their families. The girls greeted them and fetched their drinks for them. Once everyone had arrived, we got started.
First off, we thanked them for coming to our Veterans Day Celebration and told them that our intent was to teach our kids about our veterans. We all stood and saluted the United States Flag while we said the Pledge of Allegiance. One of our guests suggested we sing The Star Spangled Banner. I never realized what an emotional song this is for our veterans. There were several tears by the end of the song. After that, we blessed the meal and the veterans lined up to eat.
The dessert table, mm-mmm good!
One of my favorite parts of the Veterans Day Celebration was seeing all of the vets sitting together. We had an entire row of tables that were empty but the 2 rows of tables that had veterans, were completely full. We even had people standing around the tables, as they wanted to join in on the conversations with out vets.
We were lucky enough to have most of the branches of service represented at our lunch with veterans from the Marines, Navy, Army and the Air Force.
Everyone was enjoying the delicious desserts when we started our next activity. The girls had written a list of questions, cut them into strips and placed them in a bowl to be drawn. Each veteran chose a question and had the option to switch it with another. (We didn’t want to make them speak about something they weren’t comfortable with.) After everyone had their question, we went around and answered them. Each veteran stood up and introduced themselves, told what branch they served in and answered their questions. After they finished, the other veterans had the chance to chime in or answer the same question.
Some questions were funny:
“What was the worst chow you were ever served?”
“What was the craziest thing you did with your buddies while in the service?”
“Who was the biggest screw up in Basic Training?”
Some were serious:
“What was one positive thing you learned from your service?”
“Would you want your child to join the service?”
“How has your service changed the way you think of our government or war?”
Some were informative:
“Describe your bathroom situation.”
“Would you do it all again? Why or why not?”
“What did you want to do as soon as you got home?”
We also played a pretty funny game that required everyone to place a paper plate on their head and draw an eagle, without looking. The older people loved this game and their “artwork” was hilarious!
After the games, we all mingled, moving from one veteran to the next hearing their stories. Most of them brought photos and keepsakes. It was so neat to hear the stories behind all of the photos.
Miss Bookworm even got to try on my grandpa’s military jacket.
We spent almost 5 hours visiting with our veterans, sharing stories, memories and sacrifices. While it was so much work, it was totally worth it. At the end of the day all learned so much more than we ever imagined.
My only regret is that we didn’t get a photo with every veteran that attended our Veterans Day Celebration.
While it wasn’t anything fancy, the veterans really appreciated it. They felt that, for even just a day, the rest of America hasn’t forgotten the things they’ve went through in order to protect the country that we all call home.
If you are like me and have struggled with ideas on how to celebrate Veterans Day in your homeschool, I suggest arranging a visit with a veteran who is willing to share their experience with your family. You don’t have to do it on such a large scale. Simply invite over one veteran who your child feels comfortable talking with.
Just inviting them for visit can mean the world to them, while giving your kids a glimpse into a whole new world.
Teaching your kids about the sacrifices can be a tough job. If you’ve never lived through it, it’s something that is hard to understand. By showing our appreciation to the veterans in our lives, our kids were humbles and honored to know so many amazing men and women. There is nothing like a good visit with someone who makes you proud to be an American.
To all our service men and women, THANK YOU! Without your sacrifice, we would not be AMERICA!