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Never Forget, Never Surrender Because We All Depend on Your Sacrifice

by Gail Brandt

What is the significance of a date?  Depends on your frame of reference.

If the date of  December 7, 1941, is mentioned… U. S. history students will tell anyone that it is the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

If the date of June 6th, 1944, better known as D-Day,  is mentioned… and especially if there was a family member who fought in World War II… people know that it is the Allied invasion in Normandy, France to liberate Europe.

However, if you mention a quote instead of a date, the response might be totally different.

“On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the bells rang in England for the 1st time in four years.”  The significance… the armistice that ended World War I.

The Steven Spielberg movie “War Horse”  not only shares the tragedy and horror of war and its consequences, but tells the tale of young boy and his very special bond with his horse… their journey together through separation and loss… their joyful reunion at the close of the war.

World War I was known for its trench warfare, poison gases, use of machine guns, and aerial battles known as dog fights. It is also known as the last war where horses were used on a large scale. If the horses were not fed, there was no cavalry to fight. And, if I remember correctly, it is the first war in the modern era that used total warfare, where everyone and everything was a target.

Sometimes movies can explain to students what dates mean… better than any history book or any lecture by a social studies teacher.

So, if the significance of this year’s Veteran’s Day just flew by… it is probably not because it was the 100th anniversary of World War I.  It was more than likely was because we hear about violence constantly, thanks to today’s 24/7 news media cycle.

The internet, plus the non-stop bombardment of information, tends to deaden the senses. Today’s high school juniors, who attend Texas public schools, face the dreaded STAAR tests.  Mastery in five specific areas is required in order to gain a diploma. Social studies is one of those areas.

When that exit level test was known as TAKS, students could memorize dates and quotes, make sure they could use a legend to interpret a map, and had to be able to decipher graphs and charts. This usually guaranteed  mastery on the test. And then, when scores got too high, the state upped the rigor.

Students no longer had an easy out. Dates, quotes, maps, graphs, and charts were just the tip of the iceberg. Scores for the exit level social studies test began to plummet statewide.

It no longer mattered that hard data facts were memorized. There was an interpretation added to most questions. If students read questions and were not on the same wavelength as the question writer, there was no way to find the correct answer from among the four answer choices provided.

New standards did not make students any smarter, they just made the test harder to pass. I personally saw these changes unfold in the classroom, so even though I can not provide the hard data to support these claims, I do know that they took place.

Statewide tests were in many respects an answer to adult complaints that students were not learning anything in school. So what does testing have to do with veterans, you might ask.

Veterans help to create many of the stories and facts that are studied in American history classes. From the American Revolution to the War of 1812, from the American Civil War over states’ rights and slavery to both world wars, from Korea to Vietnam, from the Persian Gulf War to all the battles fought elsewhere because of the War on Terrorism after 9/11, 2001.

Veterans made their sacrifices. Members of today’s armed services continue to make the sacrifices… that allow students the freedom to participate in public education, that allow people the right to protest, and that allow us to practice our unalienable rights.

We must always remember veterans because they do what we can not. They run into battle. They seem to be born with something else inside of them… that most of us, who surround them, do not have.

Their special marks of character mean that they have given up so much to serve our country, to defend us, and to defend our great nation. These character traits exemplify:  integrity, excellence, commitment, duty, honor, sacrifice, love of country, and love of freedom.  These facts are incredibly humbling, when you think about it.

During this holiday season as we give thanks and celebrate the birth of Jesus, remember these men and women.

God bless our veterans… who have served in wartime!  God bless our armed service members… who are now serving!  God bless America!

Sincerely,

Gail Brandt

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