04/26/08 — Small sacrifice: One Saturday in school frees up day to honor troops

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Small sacrifice: One Saturday in school frees up day to honor troops

As expected, the discussion of the Memorial Day holiday and whether children should or should not be in school has turned into a little more of an argument.

The problem is, the only way to remove the obligation of school on Memorial Day is to make up the time on a Saturday — for a half day.

And that is causing some uproar from those who are saying that students — and teachers — shouldn’t have to pay with “half a Saturday” because the Wayne County School District did not think ahead to a possible firestorm when it decided to make students attend school on a holiday.

Does anyone else see the irony in this complaint?

Memorial Day is a holiday to honor those who have given their lives in service to their country. Many of those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines were very young and died, alone, thousands of miles from home on battlefields around the world. Some of them were probably not much older than some of the students at our local high schools.

Their families also bore the brunt of their loss, dealing with fathers, brothers, sons and uncles who would never come home again.

And by far the most heart-wrenching stories are about those whose remains were not found and who remain buried in a jungle somewhere — lost, but never ever forgotten.

All of those heroes did not stop to measure the cost of their sacrifice or to worry about the inconvenience their service would have caused. They had committed to fighting to protect this nation from harm. Therefore, it was their duty to get the job done with courage and a sense of honor.

And because they did what they were supposed to do, this nation is free — and will remain free — for generations.

And there are people in other nations, too, who still remember and honor the sacrifices those GIs made — and the freedom from tyranny and horror that they left behind, all for generations of Europeans they did not even know.

Those sacrifices, not only for the future of this nation, but for the possibilities of better lives for others around the world, continue today.

What better way to share with our young people the meaning of such an important gift than to ask them to sacrifice a little, too.

Giving up a Saturday to honor the lives of thousands of brave men and women from the past and present is not too much to ask. In fact, it is a really clever way to draw attention to a holiday that often gets lost in cookouts and family reunions and summer anticipation.

So while it might be an inconvenience this year, what a great opportunity to teach our children a different kind of lesson about courage, sacrifice and gratitude.

And as an aside to the Wayne County Board of Education and the school district staff: This is a military town and this is a holiday that should never be optional. Board Chairman Thelma Smith is right — get this changed for next year now. There are plenty of places to pick up an extra day.

You asked and no one spoke up this year, so you did what you could. But now that you know, this is the time to make a permanent policy change.

Published in Editorials on April 26, 2008 11:36 PM