As the Month of the Military Child comes to a close, I think we need to talk about something important. Yesterday, I was caught outside at the Youth Center my son goes to, when the National Anthem began to play. As a military community, we should all know that when it’s the end of the duty day, the National Anthem will be playing. We should know that when the National Anthem plays, we stand at attention and salute, or we stand still and place our right hand over our hearts. We should know that we don’t move during this time, regardless of if we’re the ones serving . However, this was not the case for a handful of Elementary school-aged kids.
I know we like to protect our children by reasserting their innocence and them “not really knowing what’s going on,” but can you really allow ignorance to be bliss? Giving them excuses like this ends up fostering bad habits and eventually putting the idea in their head that what they’re doing is nothing wrong because they’re innocent. So instead of making excuses, we ought to be teaching our children about our military culture, and customs & courtesies. You may think that our way of life is too complicated to talk about with a child, but you’d be surprised at what they can understand.
How do we teach our kids about military customs and courtesies? I can certainly tell you that it doesn’t involve sock puppets. Honestly, it starts with a simple conversation. Recently, my oldest asked me why I salute to some people and I don’t to others. This started a conversation about the difference between officer and enlisted, and why we do it – its simply a sign of respect. That simple. It didn’t involve a long and fictitional story, and I didn’t need any special props to explain it. In the instance of the Tennessee National Guard mom who thought she “meant well” with her puppet stunt during her reenlistment, it obviously did not transfer well, and there’s a good reason why. As with every part of our lives, there’s a time and place to act silly, but there’s also a very bold line of when its time to be serious. Most, if not, all military traditions are meant to be taken seriously… Showing your sense of discipline in a ceremony like a reenlistment actually shows your children that this is a big deal, because it is. You’re committing another couple years to the military, and not a lot of people are doing the same thing now-a-days.
All of this really boils down to one thing – RESPECT. If we don’t teach our children why we do what we do in the military, how are they supposed to know? If we don’t correct our child when they’re not paying attention during the National Anthem, how are they supposed to know that it’s disrespectful? Being in the military, we have a lot of history and heritage, thats why respect means so much. If we don’t start teaching and disciplining our children now, when their minds are young and impressionable, we essentially fail at creating respectable members of society. Eventually, they will be set in their ways, and unfortuately, there’s no turning back time to change their bad habits.
So, start teaching and discipline you children now before its too late. Or else, we will end up with a society that has no respect for their country and the sacrifices our ancestors have endured for the life we live.