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We are blessed to live in a small city and wonderful Ward that makes Veteran’s Day a very special occasion each year. Rows and rows of large flags line many of the streets, office buildings, churches and parks. Special programs take place. Our Jackson, Tennessee Ward has an annual event to which the community and local Vets are invited for a program and refreshments or even a catered meal. Sometimes we even have the local TV news teams, mayor and State Government guests! This year’s program was exceptional and with the permission of those who put it together, I have adapted selections that will be very appropriate for sharing the facts, history and spirit of Veteran’s Day with your dear ones.

Could there be anything more important this week than celebrating and remembering our Veterans to show the Lord that we are grateful and wish to be honorable citizens?

Please Note: As preparation for next year’s Veteran’s Day, I urge you to consider purchasing a remarkable book for families by Andrea Brett, a professional entertainer, author and member of the Church in Branson Missouri with a special devotion to our American Veteran’s. Part of her fabulous family musical show in Branson is dedicated to America and our Vets. Her newly published large picture book, “I Am A Veteran” with its beautiful poem, original artwork and photographs is a powerful way to teach children and remind ourselves of where our freedom comes from. The link for ordering this important, beautiful book is at the bottom of the article.

Family Home Evening Suggestion: Choose one or more of the following selections to read or Youtube videos to watch. Set up a Fallen Comrade Table as a focal point before starting (see explanation below). 

READER 1: This year’s Veterans Day marks the centennial of the signing of the Armistice at the end of World War I in November of 1918. Now, in 2018, when our great Nation is so divided politically and respect for our Nation’s leaders and history seems to be undermined by any and everything, it could not be more important to take a few hours and honor those who sacrificed so much for the safety and peace we enjoy.

What is the history of Veteran’s Day?

READER 2: On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 19818, the guns of World War I fell silent. “The war to end all wars”, was over. When it began in 1914, men rode into battle on horseback. Four years later, soldiers charged across the killing fields with machine guns, flamethrowers, and tanks, while airplanes bombed from the air. During the war, millions of soldiers were killed, In all, nearly 17 million people, including civilians, lost their lives, which exceeds the current population of New York City, Chicago, AND Los Angeles, COMBINED. When WorldWar I ended in 1918, all of Europe, and much of the world, celebrated, marking the occasion as “Armistice Day” or “Remembrance Day”. In America, November 11 eventually became known as “Veterans Day”, a day to celebrate the service of all United States military members.

November 11, 2018 this very year, marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

In Flanders Field: The Masterful Poem and The Tradition of the Poppies
FHE Suggestion: You may want to find red poppies to pass out to each person present.

READER 3: In the spring of 1915, three and a half years before the end of the war in Flanders Belgium, a Canadian physician, Lt. Col John McCrae, was tasked with carrying out the burial service of a young friend and artillery officer. He noticed that although the ground was torn and barren from the battle, some of the first plants to grow back included red poppies, springing up between the graves of the dead. Tha tnight, sitting in the back of an ambulance, John McCrae scribbled out one of the most famous poems of the war, “In Flanders Fields.”

READER 1:
In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.

Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

READER 2: Inspired by that poem, Moina Michael, a professor at the University of Georgia, resolved to wear a red poppy year round to honor the dead. She also wrote the poem, We Shall Keep the Faith”,meant as a response to the poem In Flanders Fields.

READER 3:
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet-to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

READER 1: Moina Michael continued to wear her red poppy. She distributed poppies to all she knew, and even campaigned to have them adopted as an official symbol of remembrance. Today, red poppies are still associated with remembrance of soldiers who died in battle.

FHE Suggestion: You can listen to a beautiful rendering of the poem in song form and see poppies at this Youtube video link: CLICK HERE.

The Fallen Comrade Table
After our program, a lovely catered barbecue was served. In the middle of the gaily decorated patriotic tables, however, was a special table, called “The Fallen Comrade Table.” For me, there was a reverent solemnity and glow around it that was as tender as any of national services we have attended in Washington D.C. Why? Because this little table honorably and magnificently represented not a war hero of grand proportions with a crowd of spectators, but a common soldier, a family member or friend now missing as a POW or MIA from the gathering itself and from daily life with family and friends.

FHE Suggestion: You can easily recreate the Comrade’s Table for your Family Home Evening and use it as focal point.

READER 2: This table is a place of honor. We remember those missing from among us. The tablecloth is white, symbolizing purity of intentions in responding to our nation's call to arms. The chair is empty, for they are not here. The glass is inverted. They cannot toast with us tonight. A slice of lemon reminds us of their bitter suffering, while grains of salt represent the countless tears of their families. A single red rose reminds us of their loved ones, who keep the faith. The candle symbolizes an everlasting hope of their return. Remember them, all who depended and relied upon their strength. Remember them, for surely, they have not forgotten you.

The Thirteen Folds of The Flag And What They Mean

Our ward is blessed with a Viet Nam Vet, Brother Benny Denton, who has made it a crusade during his retirement years to keep the memory of those who served in Viet Nam front and center in our community. His squad of fellow retired Viet Name Veterans have their own uniforms and berets. They are frequently invited to provide meaningful, well-executed flag ceremonies for civic events, ceremonies and military funerals where they are often asked to present “The Thirteen Folds,” a reading and demonstration done with a large, crisp American Flag. Yes the folds represent the original 13 American colonies, but so much more!

FHE Suggestion: Display an American Flag during the reading.   If you have Scouts and an appropriate flag, you may wish to practice this ahead of time and present it to your group.

READER 3
:

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold signifies our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and tribute of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace.

The fourth fold exemplifies our weaker nature as citizens trusting in God; it is to Him we turn for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is an acknowledgment to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one naion under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

The ninth fold is an honor to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty, and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first-born.

The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.

The last fold, when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”

A Special Poem and Song For Children

Our spiritually enriching evening of music, song and a slide show left us filled with gratitude, but the cherry on top was a chorus of ten of our best little Primary Children singing “Thank You, Soldiers.” The lyrics are below and and a link to a touching youtube video of children singing is at the bottom of the article.

FHE Suggestion: Read the poem with Youtube 1 (which is instrumental) or watch Youtube 2 with children singing.

Thank You Soldiers
By Michael and Angela Souders

When I lay my head down ev’ry night
And go to sleep in peace,
I can stay there knowing all is well
While you’re standing on your feet

Keeping watch, protecting shore to shore
In the air and oceans too
Defending freedom at all cost,
For the red, white and the blue

Thank you, oh Thank You!
Men and women brave and strong
To those who serve(d) so gallantly
We sing this grateful song

To the soldiers who have traveled on
To countries far and near
In peace and war you paid the price
For the cause you hold so dear

That we may wake each morning bright
And know that freedom rings;
Because of your great sacrifice,
Your country joins to sing.

Thank you, oh Thank You!
Men and women brave and strong
To those who serve(d) so gallantly
We sing this grateful song

Thank You Soldiers
YOUTUBE VIDEO 1: Instrumental CLICK HERE
YOUTUBE VIDEO 2: Children of Tussing Elementary Sing with Video of Soldiers

BONUS: The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers by Ellen Cobbs

While you might not have time in this Family Home Evening for this last segment, if your family has become interested in World War I, here’s another element for a fascinating evening.

In 2017, a very special book was published just in time for this 100th Anniversary celebration of World War I. It is a true-life historical exploration of 223 remarkable young women who served on the front line in far-away World War I France as telephone operators!

“Over the vast network of telephone lines that had been hastily constructed across France, these femail soldiers worked the complicated switchboards connecting the ever-shifting front lines with vital supply depots and military command. At the height of the fighting, they connected over 150,000 calls per day.

They were the “Hello Girls” — a cadre of patriotic women who volunteered when the U.S. Army realized that the war would be won or lost on the Allies’ ability to exploit the new technology of telephone communication. In the crisply written The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers, Elizabeth Cobbs details exactly what was asked of these women during the war” (Glen Weldon, NPR Book Review)


For a fascinating video at the National Archives in Washington D.C. with the author of the book, Professor Elizabeth Cobbs, please click HERE

(Please note that that video has a very long lead that seems like nothing is happening. Just fast forward.) Be prepared for a real treat as this is a story of not just history, but the present.

So, Happy Veteran’s Day! I hope there will be something special for you here!

LINKS:
Andrea Brett Book: “I Am A Veteran”
https://www.iamaveteran.net/
Order online. This gorgeous, touching, table-sized book is a little expensive, but a priceless investment to teach your family about our country and the service of our Vets. This is a very important addition to your family library for children and grandchildren.

In Flanders Fields
Reading and Slideshow
https://youtu.be/K6BlOkpdkg8

The Thirteen Folds
Flag Folding and Reading

Thank You Soldiers
Video I: Instrumental Only

Video 2: Children Singing
https://youtu.be/5pfBUUZNbFM

The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers
Interview with Author Ellen Cobbs
https://youtu.be/RcnUrf7GGyM

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been a columnist for Meridian Magazine for 11 years, providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success and happy living both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999. She has presented for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of a growing number of darling little ones. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis, where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. CLICK HERE