Last week at the post office, Carver filled out a Selective Service card for the military without my noticing. But he proudly tucked the card with his name filled in the boxes and hid beneath his shirt until we got home. “Mom,” he exclaimed, “I’m going into the Army.” Suddenly, he was 18 or 22 or 26, and telling me this news in our kitchen; only now instead of our table being covered with craft crap and school papers and leftover Halloween decorations, it holds a lovely cornucopia of gourds, a classy prop proving we had survived childhood. “But you would need to join the Army with me, Mom, and I’d need to bring puppy and turtle,” and there he again, my almost 7 year old, who currently cannot imagine living anywhere but here with mom and dad.
Celebrating Veterans’ Day has always been something Lin-Wood Public School has done incredibly well. After this divisive Presidential Election, coming together to honor those who have defended our rights and privileges and the values we hold dear to our hearts was healing. Our children needed to see this as much as their parents and grandparents and community members. Veterans are invited to attend, be celebrated for their service and sacrifice, and are escorted in by sons, daughters, grandchildren or close friends. Last year, Carver walked in between his grandfathers, and this year, Greta walked in with her Pop Pop (my dad) and Carver walked with Grandpa (Geoff’s dad). Our dads were in the Air Force and Air National Guard respectively, serving their time right between 1962 and 1968.
Men and women of our military branches deserve our utmost respect– always have and always will, which is why I love our little school ceremony. Children sing songs, bigger kids read poems, play in the band, or share reflections about what it’s like to have a mom or dad in the military, and always there is a guest speaker, a Veteran, who either attended Lin-Wood or lives or works in our community. This part always moves me to tears because it’s authentic history in the making. Last year, it was Mrs. Ingalls, a middle school special educator, whose husband was at one time a POW. And then I always think of the now men and now women who used to be boys and girls in my classroom and now serve our country– proudly, confidently, and diligently– even when they couldn’t imagine what they might be or do when they grew up.
And this has been a tough week for our country with a presidential election like no other in our history. This has been a tough week for me, as a teacher, who is not supposed to share with her students her political choices, but who couldn’t help but crying openly at crosswalk duty when her student said, “Mrs. Krill, isn’t it just the most terrible news?” And I wanted to NOT cry. I wanted to explain it would all be okay because that’s what our balance of powers in government is for, so that one person never grows too powerful. I wanted to tell her that in my almost 42 years I could not wait for a woman to be president, that I grew up believing I could be president–that my gender did not matter–what mattered is that I was compassionate, open minded, hard working, and could problem solve. But I didn’t actually want to be president; I wanted to be a teacher. I said none of these things, but instead gave her a tight hug and she walked with her friend, and I watched them cross together, two ninth grade girls on the cusp of everything.
So, Veterans everywhere, thank you for your service. Hillary Clinton, thank you for the graceful concession speech where you spoke directly to me and future young people, including my own children, about following through on what we believe in. Barack and Michelle Obama, thank you for modeling what compassionate leadership, Democratic values, appropriate manners, and what the White House should be all about for our newly elected president. I am grateful for my right to vote, and proud to work in a school, watching young people react and respond to complex consequences in ways that are thoughtful and appreciated. May the adults in our world take notice.