vet2Dear Editor,

I am absolutely appalled by the decision that Belvidere School District 100 made to not allow students off for Veterans Day this year.

As an educator myself, I feel that it is important to have students in class to learn material; however, if the school district feels that a day such as “Columbus Day” which honors a man who got lost, was helped by the Native Americans who found and rescued him only to turn around and initiate a genocide against them, enslave them, and steal from them is deserving of a day away from school, then why not Veterans Day which honors the brave men and women who have volunteered to put themselves in harm’s way, sacrificed time with their families to defend and protect our freedom?

I could not be any more disappointed in this school district than if they decided to take a day to honor Osama Bin Laden.

What message does this send to the students? That hate, intolerance, genocide is to be revered while self-sacrifice, honor, and freedom are to be overlooked and ignored? I wonder if the school district is teaching its students the various hate songs surrounding Native Americans as Thanksgiving approaches (i.e. Ten Little Indians which is a song aimed at celebrating the killing of Native Americans).

This decision is a slap in the face to all who have bravely stood up to fight; who walked the walk instead of just talked the talk. Is it no wonder that racism and hate are perpetuated in our society if this is what the children are taught in schools, that it is better to honor a man who brought death and destruction to the indigenous people of this land than to honor the men and women who sacrifice to protect us and our freedom.

This is not an issue of political correctness, rather an issue of respect. As educators, we have a responsibility to teach the future generations to learn from past mistakes and to participate in society to make this world a better place. That is not the message received from this decision.

I teach at a local university and at this level, we do not get holidays off other than Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Our breaks are scheduled to have the various December holidays, Memorial Day, and Independence Day off.

However, I make a point every year on Veterans Day to not only give my Veteran students excused absences so that they may participate in the various activities of the day or even simply spend it with their families, but I take time in class to discuss Veterans Day, to show a clip or more regarding the sacrifices that our military makes so that we have the privilege of sitting in a classroom and learning, of having the right to free speech and right of assembly, of living the life possible in the United States.

Not everyone has these rights and privileges and to turn our backs on those who have defended our rights is insulting, not only to them but to their families.

I saw the statement released by the school district and I would like them to address the rationale behind honoring Columbus Day while ignoring Veterans Day.

The statement reads that by having class on Veterans Day, it provides an opportunity to educate the students as to the significance of Nov. 11. I would be interested to know if these lesson plans had been prepared earlier in the term or if the teachers are now faced with scrambling to accommodate this statement in light of the public relations backlash of their decision.

Furthermore, it is important to note the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Memorial Day honors those who have sacrificed their lives while in service to their country while Veterans Day honors all who served. It is a day to recognize and thank living veterans for their service and sacrifice.

Considering the process of calendar approval, I would remind everyone that the Board of Education is elected by the people. I encourage you to let your voice be heard at the next election.

Let’s make sure the Board of Education has the best interests of our future generations at heart by voting in those who would honor the brave men and women who have defended our freedoms and by letting the existing board know how much their choices to disrespect our veterans have consequences in terms of an end to their serving on the board of education.

Colleen M. Kennedy

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