"It gives me hope."
MomentsWords will not do this justice, but I feel it necessary to share what I saw a group of middle school students do this past Veteran's Day. Sometimes things happen in our world that make us ponder what we are doing as Americans, yet, there are moments, real moments, those genuine unplanned moments, that make you realize we are all in this together and we live in a pretty awesome place.
I want to share what happened in our school's cafeteria on November 11th, Veteran's Day, during our 7th grade lunch - a cafeteria full of almost 300 twelve and thirteen year olds; a cafeteria not much different than most middle school cafeterias. However, on this November day, in this modest and humble town of Quakertown, hope was felt.
As our 7th graders were settling into eating their lunches and starting to talk with their friends in the cafeteria, a few yards away an assembly was ending in our auditorium. Veterans had gathered to hear community members, politicians, and other veterans speak and recognize their many sacrifices and service. The ceremony ended and the Veterans began to appear at the entrance to the cafeteria and began walking through the cafeteria towards the library for a luncheon. What happened next was awesome.
HopeThere was a buzz of excitement in the cafeteria and the 7th graders started to clap and move towards the Veterans. They formed a line and began to cheer, clap, and shake hands with the Veterans. I could hear "thank-you's", see kids taking their phones out to snap selfies with the vets- and I even saw one of my students helping a vet to snap a selfie on his phone, handing them letters, and giving high fives. I also saw so many genuine smiles from both the students and Veterans - and I even saw tears from both as well. This moment continued until every Veteran, well over 75 of them - men and women from every branch of the service paraded through our cafeteria.
As the last of the Veterans made their way through, a gentleman who appeared to be in his late 50's approached me. His eyes appeared glassy and I could see tears on his cheeks. As he began to speak I could feel myself fighting back tears. He smiled at me and took my hand and said, "I woke up this morning and put on the TV. I watched the news and just felt awful. I knew what today was but I wasn't feeling too good about things. Then this all happened, and I'll tell you what, looking at these kids, talking with these kids...it gives me hope."
As I got back to my room after lunch, I noticed two girls who were visibly upset. I asked them what was wrong and one of the girls replied, "It's just...just that was so awesome. We take so much for granted and if it weren't for all those Veterans, we wouldn't have what we have," and the other girl replied, " I handed one of the Veteran's a letter I had written and he started crying and so did I...he told me he was so happy".
It's moments like this that make me realize as long as there is kindness, there is always hope.