by | Gianna DiPasquale
Veterans Day is meant as a time to recognize and give appreciation to those who have made sacrifices for the country through their service in the military. With many students coming from military families and several teachers who are veterans themselves, this day symbolizes many things for different people.
“I don’t know that a lot of students realize that the choice not to stand for a flag was given because of veterans,” former Army Arabic Linguist and Interrogator, current Math Department Dean Melissa Stephen said. “That we fought and have been fighting for a couple hundred years now for the right to, essentially, have a government and have a country where we can have [a] choice where many other places don’t.”
The usual response for Veterans Day is to thank them for their service, however, there are other ways that students can show their appreciation to the veterans in their lives, whether it’s their teacher, relative, or someone they meet on the street.
“Ask questions,” Stephen said. “To ask questions, and be engaged, and really try to learn from them because the experience in the military is nothing like experience in college, nothing like experience in the real world.”
Many veterans had opportunities to educate and learn through their time in the military, and meet other people of different backgrounds to try and understand their culture and identity. Stephen’s job as an interpreter led her to translate for a kindergarten student who only spoke Arabic.
“One day I remember they were at recess and he was telling a kid what his name was in Arabic, and the other kid said in Arabic back to him what his name was, and then in English the one kid said his name, and the Arabic student, in English, said his name,” Stephen said. “He wasn’t hiding in the bathroom because he was so scared and shy and he didn’t understand anything, to now here they are trying to teach each other each other’s languages, I was like ‘Yeah this is what I want to do’.”
The meaning behind Veterans Day is extremely sacred, especially for the veterans themselves who get to share their experiences and knowledge that were gained from serving the country.
“It reminds me of the people I was with in the military,” Stephen said. “The good, the bad, the sad, all of it.”