Activities for Veterans Day
From The Celebrating Americas Freedoms Series
Veterans Day activities afford the schools and the local community an excellent opportunity to produce a variety of cooperative programs. Participation by patriotic organizations can enhance the projects suggested in this guide.
1. Indoor Ceremony
Depending on the facilities available, an indoor assembly program can provide a most meaningful tribute to Veterans Day. The scope of such a program may be large enough to permit invitations to the community at large. The following ceremony outline with prepared Veterans Day remarks represents a typical one-hour program.
Prelude and Posting of ColorsAs the audience enters to be seated, a school or community musical organization may offer several appropriate selections. A procession and posting of colors is always a stirring event. Local veterans service organizations often participate in such programs with their impressive array of banners and flags.
Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and National AnthemThe program chairperson, school principal or student body president should invite the audience to stand and join in the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of the National Anthem.
Introductory RemarksThe tone for the program may be set by appropriate introductory remarks lasting several minutes. The following remarks may be used or, if desired, the Presidents Veterans Day Proclamation may be read.
Today there is, and perhaps there always will be, conflict in the world. But the United States fortunately enjoys peace and freedom. Like other things of great value, this security did not come cheaply. Part of the cost has already been paid by Americans who answered the call to military duty when their country needed them. They served in 11 wars from the Revolution to the Persian Gulf, earning the special distinction veteran. But another part of freedoms cost must continue to be paid long after the guns have been silenced. This debt is owed Americas veterans. Some need their countrys help, even as their country once needed theirs, to readjust, to recover from wounds or to overcome hardships of age and infirmity. Most need and ask nothing in repayment of their sacrifices. Let us continue to help those veterans in need with the greatest possible compassion and efficiency. To the rest, since they ask no special help, we can best pay tribute this day by recognizing what they have achieved and joining them in their resolve to keep America strong and free.
Special Musical SelectionA band or choral group should offer one of the more impressive patriotic selections available.
Introduction of GuestsDignitaries selected as special guests may include local government officials, school alumni with distinguished military service, veterans from the community who represent different periods of service and faculty members who are veterans.
Principal SpeakerYour principal speaker should be invited far enough in advance to allow adequate preparation for your program.
Student Essay or ReadingIn school programs, student body participation may be increased by including in the program various presentations by individual pupils. Selected essays from school-wide competition may be offered by the student-author. A reading of a well-known patriotic address by an American president or famous military hero by a talented student can be effective. There are a number of published musicals/narratives which could add greatly to your program.
Moment of SilenceTapsWhile Veterans Day is typically a tribute to Americas living veterans, it is always appropriate to include a moment of respect for those who gave their lives for their country. The signing of the World War I Armistice took place in a railway coach near the battle zone in France. The bugles sounded cease firing and the hostilities ended, marking a most significant moment in world history. Although 11 a.m. remains a traditional hour for this type of tribute, a moment of silence is appropriate at any point in the program. This may be followed by an instrumental or vocal rendition of Taps.
ClosingAccompanied by appropriate music, assembled colors should be retired. Then the audience may file out.
2. Flag Raising Ceremony
Weather permitting, outdoor flag-raising ceremonies permit group participation in an event which by its routine usually escapes attention. Such a ceremony, although brief,
should include the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem. A special guest may participate.
3. Musical Programs
Veterans Day offers an excellent opportunity for school or community musical organizations to display their talents. A midday concert at the school or at a central location in the community may be especially dedicated to Veterans Day. An innovative program might include selections known to have been popular during Americas wars.
4. Poster Contest
The creative talents of students can be encouraged through participation in a school-wide Veterans Day poster contest. Winners should be appropriately recognized and awarded certificates. Local newspapers should be invited to photograph the winning entries.
5. School Newspaper Activity
Feature stories on Veterans Day can be developed by the staffs of school publications. Publish a roster of faculty members who are veterans. Describe other Veterans Day activities in individual classrooms.
6. Library Activities
School or community libraries can prepare lists of recommended reading material suitable for Veterans Day. An appropriate display of book jackets or a special shelf containing selected publications can be used to call attention to the project.
7. Football Games
Veterans Day is observed at the time of the year when schools and clubs are engaged in football competition. The presentation of the colors and playing of the National Anthem may be keyed to Veterans Day by an appropriate public address announcement. Half-time presentations by school bands also afford an ideal opportunity to offer special patriotic selections and marching routines. Card section displays are another popular device that may be used to visually recognize Veterans Day.
8. School Cafeteria Activities
Patriotic decorations in school dining areas would add a colorful tribute to Veterans Day. Create special menu items such as decorated cupcakes or cookies.
9. Historical Groups
Veterans Day programs may be given added importance in your school or community through appropriate cooperation with local historical organizations. In many areas, these patriotic groups have organized period uniformed flag bearers, fife and drum corps and other marching and musical units. There are many ways these colorful performers may be a part of a dignified program.
10. The Department of Veterans Affairs
Local VA facilitiesmedical centers, regional benefits offices, and national cemeteriesare ready sources of information and speakers for Veterans Day programs. They can also provide contact with local veterans service organizations and arrange visits, tours and other special programs for students. To contact your local VA facilities, look under Department of Veterans Affairs in the Federal Government listings in the local telephone directory.
11. Suggested Classroom Activities
Smaller school units can also develop meaningful programs which can personally involve every student. Activities which are entertaining as well as instructive are sure to attract the interest of younger children.
Veterans Day themes can be included in writing assignments. First-person accounts of military service of a relative or friend can help develop narrative skills. Assign students to investigate the various benefits offered to veterans by government agencies. Write about veterans who are receiving educational benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Describe various veterans memorials which may be located nearby.
The colorful and varied uniforms worn by members of the armed forces throughout our history offer students of all ages ideal subjects to draw and paint. Elementary-school children enjoy opportunities to create and exhibit costume items. Making colored construction paper hats representing various military eras is a modest and effective way of interesting pupils in Veterans Day subjects. The official emblems and seals of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard can be portrayed by students in a variety of methods, such as mosaics, applique, decoupage, as well as the traditional painting and drawing approaches.
Ask students to research and list all their known relatives who served in the Armed Forces. Since more than 30 percent of the United States population is comprised of veterans, their dependents and survivors, most students should be able to contribute something.
These suggested activities are contained in VA's Veterans Day booklet sent to all schools.