“Thank you for your service, Mrs. Malone.” I heard those seven words strung together with smiles and fistbumps throughout the day yesterday as my middlers assured me that they knew that I had served this great nation. A few of the littles asked which branch, and I proudly replied, “United States Air Force.” What usually follows is a short word volley about planes, wars, guns, and bad guys. Many of the wee ones asked why I was at work yesterday; and furthermore, why were they in school on Veterans Day?
I was hoping they’d ask. The teacher in me loves an authentic teachable moment. So, I took off my flight cap and put on my teacher’s hat to explain service. I began by telling them that a day off is usually still a day on for those who serve. Those who are on active duty don’t get a timeout from protecting our liberties because it’s Veterans Day in the United States. I explained that working as a school leader is my vocation. Serving sometimes comes with a small monetary token in exchange for one’s time and talents. Though most may see my role as just a job, I see it as the only true leadership there is — Servant Leadership.
During the time it takes to eat a small cup of pudding, a fist full of fries, or to clean up a puddle of spilled milk, I explained that service comes in many forms, and that many who serve us each day, often go unnoticed. In our school, it’s usually the team who serves lunch, the team who keeps our building clean, or the team of secretaries who serve on our front lines each day. Everyone is important, and so is their service. I think they got it, but let’s see how today goes. Teaching middle school kids to appreciate others for who they are is often times easier than teaching adults that everyone matters — especially to God.
I challenge you to thank ALL veterans, but don’t forget their family members. Thank your mail carrier who delivers your mail in all kinds of weather. Thank your local grocer who competes with large chains each day and relies on your loyalty to small businesses. I encourage you to add to the list in the comments below. Everyone matters — I can’t stress it enough.
Now that you know better, you can’t go back to yesterday’s behavior. Know better. Do Better Twogether.