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What do you think of this? This letter came home from (public) school with my stepdaughter the other day:<br><br>
"Dear Parents,<br><br>
The students at X X Middle School would like to celebrate Vetarans Day on November 11th, 2005. I am asking that every student please bring in a copy of a photo of someone that has served or is serving our Nation. I believe a picture speaks a thousand words.<br><br>
When the student brings in the picture, please have the name of the person, the branch of service that they are/were in, the amount of time served and the conflict in which they were part of. It is VERY IMPORTANT that the students experience the patriotism that this country has so please make every effort to have your son/daughter bring in a copied photo.<br><br>
If you do not know of anyone that has served personally please check with neighbors, co-workers or friends of friends. We would like ALL of our student's to participate in this. I do understand that religious beliefs play a part in this as well.<br><br>
Have the photos reproduced at Walgreen's, or Kinko's. Preferably a 5 X 7 print will do so that they can be displayed prominently around the auditorium. Have the pictures to us by Friday November 4th, 2005. Please return this paper along with the photo to your Social Studies teacher. This will give us time to mount the photos and display them in a way that will honor all of the men and women that help to keep us free.<br><br>
The teachers are also asked to bring in photos so if your child still needs a photo have them ask one of the teachers. We want this to be a day for all to remember.<br><br>
Thank You!<br><br>
XXX Principal<br><br>
Please return this letter along with your 5 by 7 photo.<br><br>
Name: _______________________________________<br><br>
Branch of Service: _____________________________<br><br>
Served where or is now serving: __________________<br><br>
Length of time served: __________________________<br><br>
If possible what they did: ________________________<br><br>
Students Name: ________________________________ "
 

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I'm not sure what I think. My first reaction was "WTF?"<br><br>
It sounds like the school wants to use Veteran's Day for its purpose of honoring veterans. I would call the school and get more information on what the plans are.
 

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I'm inclined toward pacifism. However, I think that I like this excersize. Not because it fosters patriotism, but because it puts faces and histories to the people who are at risk in war. It makes it personal, and it real. I think its too easy to view soldiers as objects -- or picture them as imaginary clone armies -- where the losses are not real and personal.<br><br>
If my child had this assignment, he would take a picture of my grandfather. My grandfather was drafted during Korea. When he showed up for his physical, he announced that he would not carry a gun. Ever. They berated and and verbally abused him. They called him a coward and threatened to arrest him. But in the end, they had him trained as a paramedic and sent him overseas to serve in a medical unit. He learned an important set of skills, he participated in saving lives, and he provided comfort and companionship to men who were sick, dying, scared, and lonely. He also helped civilians with medical care.
 

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Personally, and this goes with my belief system, I would have some difficulty that the school would be expressing that serving in the military and/or being killed in war is the only way to express patriotism. I believe that patriotism is a very deep and personal thing, and some Americans express it through military service and others through other means. I would be having long conversations with my kids about our family's values with regard to this before and after the ceremony.
 

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I don't mind the aspect of honoring and personalizing our soldiers, and I think that the exercise itself is an okay way to do that. But . . .<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">This will give us time to mount the photos and display them in a way that will honor all of the men and women that help to keep us free.</td>
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I don't like the brainwashing message that this sends - that war is always to keep us free, that it's us against them, and that war is always the right answer. War is not always to keep us free. So I guess I would be okay with this assignment if war and politics, including corruption and mistakes, were going to be discussed in an honest, critical way. But it sounds like it's just another way to glorify war, which I would have a problem with.<br><br>
Edit to add: I just went back and read the replies, and very much agree with Mamaduck's reply. That's the kind of thing I would like to see discussed honestly if the school is going to go down the path of discussing soldiers and war.
 

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I don't like the idea at all & would not participate. I do feel it glorifies war. It also implies that someone who refuses to take up arms is somehow "less." Just doesn't bode well with me.
 

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I liked it up until the patriotism part. If it was only to remember/honor the vets then that would be fine. When I was in school in Grade 12 we all had to interview a vet and do a report on that person's duty as part of our WWII section. I was honored because I went to my Grandpa who loved to talk about his memories of the war. A few of my classmates(and other grades when they got to that year) went to him too.
 

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How about getting a photograph of a pacifist... someone who was a conscientious objector? or even Ghandi?? (I'm thinking out loud here) to make a POINT that war in and of itself is NOT patriotic. KWIM?<br><br>
Good luck... this is a tough one.<br><br>
Lo
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>lolov</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">How about getting a photograph of a pacifist... someone who was a conscientious objector? or even Ghandi?? to make a POINT that war in and of itself is NOT patriotic.<br>
Lo</div>
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<br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/clap.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="clap"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/nod.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="nod"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 

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The way that the whole assignment is worded really worries me.<br><br>
It's one thing to put faces to soldiers with the aim of making children see the 'human face' of war, and hopefully lead them on to critical questioning.<br><br>
OTOH, this assignment to me seems to be geared towards glorifying the military and war. This makes me very uneasy. A lot of the statements in the letter are red flags to me. Religious (I guess by this 'pacifism' is implied?) beliefs are mentioned in passing -- no solution is offered for those who object to the assignment on moral, ethical or religious grounds.<br><br>
The framework of the exercize does not sit right with me at all. I would object on moral grounds.<br><br>
Alternatively, I like the suggestion of bringing in a 'peaceful warrior' like Gandhi.
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Personally, and this goes with my belief system, I would have some difficulty that the school would be expressing that serving in the military and/or being killed in war is the only way to express patriotism. I believe that patriotism is a very deep and personal thing, and some Americans express it through military service and others through other means. I would be having long conversations with my kids about our family's values with regard to this before and after the ceremony.</td>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up"><br><br>
What is more, this teacher clearly knows that some people will not like this assignment. Note the statement about religious beliefs. I would call him/her and explain why I would not allow my child to take part in this and make sure that the teacher doesn't just give the child one of the "extra" photos.
 

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I think there should be a way to gracefully "opt out". I took the religious references as an awkward way to note that some religious groups don't allow photos, but it didn't really seem to go anywhere. I would be more upset about this if there was a grade attached to the project.<br><br>
I guess the overall assignment doesn't bother me because Veterans day is a national holiday and it exists expressly to honor veterans of wars. So to give an assignment towards that end seems entirely appropriate. To me, honoring soldiers in no way glorifies war. I can support our armed forces in Iraq, for example, without agreeing with the fact that they are there. The fact that the war is, for me, inappropriate does not diminish in any way the sacrafice of those who are serving there. I still participate in outreach efforts to those young people, and have my children do the same. Doesn't mean anything about how I feel about this war or war in general though.<br><br>
I do not believe that this is noted as an expression of patriotism automatically means that there aren't other, equally valid, expressions of the same. The school, perhaps in an effort to concentrate on one easy to understand concept, has simplified it a bit. If your child is ready for the next step, then this gives you, the parent, a way to start that conversation. But not all kids at a particular school are at the same way. I'm not sure my Kindergartener is ready for the idea that there are lots of sides to wars yet. Maybe your 3rd grader (as an example) is, and that's great.
 

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I have to disagree. I think kindergartners are able to see war from more than one perspective. I certainly didn't think that war was a good thing at age 5. I think kids are a lot more aware and differentiated in their thinking than we give them credit for. Anyway, this is a Middle School.<br><br>
I also disagree that the assignment as it stands does not glorify military action. The way it is worded is certainly very unambiguous in its support of military action and also in its tying together the concepts of 'patriotism' and 'service in armed conflicts'. Note the capitalization of VERY IMPORTANT.<br><br>
The tone the letter is written in is of a certain political persuasion, one that I personally do not feel comfortable with. It should be up to the students/ parents to opt out of such an assignment. In my school, we were always invited to question and think critically and on our own, which is what good education should be about, IMO. The fact that Veteran's Day is a national holiday does not mean that everyone has to agree with the concept, or have the same understanding of it.
 

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OK, I missed the fact that this was a middle school. In that case then, yes, I think that a broader, more open discussion is possible and appropriate.<br><br>
However, I don't see how we, as parents, could possibly always expect to agree with assignments. Heck, my child is in kindergarten in a carefully chosen private school and I still don't always agree with the assignments he's given. If the letter were written from a different political persuation (and I don't really see it as that cut and dried to begin with), then the other 50% of parents would be offended. By nature, war, military service, and thus Veteran's day can be a political minefield for schools because there are so many different opinions out there. Yet, if it were ignored alltogether, that would offend some people to. The poor teachers can't win here.<br><br>
Also, based soley on this letter, you don't know what sort of discussion the social studies teacher planned for before or after the activity. Seems like lots of rushing to judge something that isn't clear.<br><br>
And its still the parent's job to pass on values, not the schools. If the values expressed during this activity don't agree with the parents/family values, then its a great opportunity for a discussion about those values. I think I would be upset only if my student came home from this activity and said that he/she had tried to raise a different opinion and had been shot down or that other political ideas had been ridiculed. That I would have a problem with and raise with the administratin of the school.
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>lolov</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">How about getting a photograph of a pacifist... someone who was a conscientious objector? or even Ghandi?? (I'm thinking out loud here) to make a POINT that war in and of itself is NOT patriotic. KWIM?</div>
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I like this idea. How about Thoreau?
 

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It seems odd the way the bit about how they know it will go against some religious beliefs but they want ALL to participate. So they want people to go against their beliefs? Also, I am against war for reasons other than religion.<br><br>
I actually like the assignment, but I'm not comfortable with the way it's worded. The "patriotism" and "keep us free". If ds got that assignment I would bring in a pic of his grandpa who served in Vietnam, but was not in a combat position. I think that bringing in a pic of a conscientious objector or peaceful protester should be acceptable.
 
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