Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day 2011

Some days are sacred. They have meaning above and beyond a number on a calendar.  November 11 is one of those days. It seems even more notable this particular year because of the numbers involved.
At the eleventh hour today I will stop and breathe in the fall air and remember those who have sacrificed their time and energy, and all too often, their lives. I’ve been to the walls of names. I’ve touched the letters and cried about war.

I found this picture posted by a friend on facebook this morning. I traced it back a few levels to
an early morning radio show in New Hampshire. I don't know who designed it, but it speaks volumes to me in a picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words kind of way, so thank you, unknown artist. And thank you veterans who made it possible for a radio show to be free to broadcast and for me to speak my mind on facebook and twitter.

For several years now I have been involved with AFS, a nonprofit organization that sends students across the globe to live with host families. Peace through cultural exchange is the short version of our mission statement. Here’s the actual:

AFS-USA works toward a more just and peaceful world by providing international and intercultural learning experiences to individuals, families, schools, and communities through a global volunteer partnership.

Each hosted student is assigned a liaison who maintains contact throughout the year. I am liaison for a student from Germany. The American school he attends here also has two other AFS students, one from Japan, one from Italy. The student from Japan is taking US History this semester and was studying for a test this past Tuesday while I met with her host family.
I asked what the test would be on. World War II she answered.

Then she remarked about something I’ve noticed all along: these three exchange students are from the three countries of the axis powers. I am blown away by the irony. Here she was sitting in an American school studying about Japan and Germany and Italy and the war of two generations ago through an American point of view. For these students, American or not, WWII is something for the history book, something they have gone beyond.

There must be a better way than war. We can’t change the past but we can influence the future through the youth of the world so that there won’t be a need for another wall of names. Ever.

Catch of the day,


  1. Many agendas seek to influence our future through the youth of the world. Teachings have changed our culture, and continue to do so. Families can have the greatest influence, if they choose to do so. If not, then peers seem to take the lead, or teachers. We are thankful for you, Gretchen-a wonderful teacher.

  2. Thanks for your kind words. I loved teaching and I enjoy what I am doing now as I work with students outside the school structure.