This decision, driven by the need to meet the required number of school days, dismisses the invaluable contributions made by military to our city, state, and country. To former service members like me, the District’s move is insulting because it demonstrates a complete disregard for the sacrifices made by veterans and their families. We find the treatment of our diverse and vibrant community, which includes parents, grandparents, students enrolled in Junior ROTC programs, and Philadelphia School District teachers and staff, deeply offensive.
On behalf of the veterans of Philadelphia, we respectfully request that the School District adopt a genuinely thoughtful approach to honor the men, women, and families within Philadelphia’s retired military community on this holiday — much like how the District collaborated with Indigenous People’s Day Philly Inc. to dedicate an in-school day to learning about the contributions of Indigenous people on that holiday.
Veterans Day holds immense significance for our community, and its elimination as a holiday is a direct affront to the sacrifices and contributions of our veterans.
We implore the School District to partner with a respected veteran’s organization to develop informative, respectful, and actionable learning materials and experiences for students across the district and implement a curriculum for an in-school learning day dedicated to honoring veterans.
Honoring Veterans Day in our schools provides a unique opportunity to teach younger generations about the sacrifices and contributions of our brave veterans. By involving children in the commemoration of veterans, we instill in them a sense of respect and patriotism.
Education about veterans helps children develop a deeper understanding of the values and ideals that our nation stands for, such as freedom, democracy, and the pursuit of justice. Through engaging activities and discussions, children can learn about the different branches of the military, the roles and responsibilities of service members, and the history of conflicts our country has faced. Moreover, celebrating Veterans Day empowers children to connect with their own family history. By understanding their family’s connection to military service, children can develop a stronger appreciation for the sacrifices made by their loved ones and gain a personal perspective on the significance of the holiday.
It’s important that our schools foster a sense of gratitude, empathy, and civic responsibility. It helps shape compassionate and informed citizens who value the sacrifices of our veterans and strive to preserve the freedoms they fought to protect. By imparting these lessons early on, we ensure that the legacy of our veterans lives on and that their contributions are never forgotten.
The Philadelphia Veterans Parade has proudly celebrated our diverse community for the past eight years, even amidst the pandemic. With the participation of over 150 organizations and 7,000 individuals marching in the Parade, we have emphasized the importance of recognizing and appreciating the contributions of our veterans. We have provided invaluable opportunities and resources to veterans and their families through events like the Vet Fest.
The City Council’s Office of Veterans Affairs, the PA Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, and the numerous veteran organizations that actively participate in our Parade are resources to provide valuable insight and guidance to inform the School District’s closure policy and contribute to the development of an inclusive and educational in-school day dedicated to learning about veterans.
Veterans Day holds immense significance for our community, and its elimination as a holiday is a direct affront to the sacrifices and contributions of our veterans. We implore the School District to demonstrate the respect and appreciation our veterans truly deserve, and we urge readers to help us in getting the Philadelphia School District to honor our veterans with a planned curriculum by connecting with their school officials.
Anthony Murphy is president of the Philadelphia Veterans Parade and Festival.
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