Walk into any elementary school classroom today, and the Flag Day celebration will probably look about the same. The kids may have a little song about Old Glory. Maybe they'll use some crayons on a coloring page of the stars and stripes. But here's betting none of them will have quite the in-your-face lesson that the kindergarten class at Live Oak Elementary School got recently thanks to a member of our nation's military.
The 5-year-olds were singing about Flag Day when in walked a man who helps keep the nation's symbol flying above our heads: Marine Staff Sgt. Juan Estrada home from Afghanistan to surprise his son Michael. He popped up in the classroom for a tearjerking military homecoming and incredible lesson for elementary schoolers all in one.
Check this one out (but grab your tissues first):
You know, I'd rather not have to have kids missing their parents -- although the way that little boy clung to his daddy was so cute, I could watch it again and again -- but this was like a giant gift dropped in the lap of that kindergarten teacher. Staff Sgt. Estrada's return after being away since before Christmas made the discussion about the flag more "real" to these little kids. Driving home just what the flag means to a bunch of 5-year-olds isn't easy. At that age, ideas like patriotism are too nebulous for them to really grasp.
I think most kids at that age -- aside perhaps from the child of a servicemember -- think holidays like Flag Day and July 4 are about singing and fireworks. It will take years before they really begin to connect them to the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, even the right to go to school and get an education. This Marine has already given a lot to our country, but he just gave even more to a classroom of little kids.
How do you try to instill a sense of patriotism and gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans in your children?
Image via santacruzsentinel/YouTube