Every November 11th my thoughts turn to my grandfather, Albert Florin. He served as a gunner in the belly of a bomber in the Army Air Corps during WWII. Some of my favorite memories of him are of sitting and listening to his stories in the garage of the little bungalow outside Detroit that he bought in 1946 (with his money) when he returned from the war. He didn’t like to talk much about combat - among other places, he fought in the Pacific and said he’d lost too many good friends on Okinawa - and he shrugged off my compliments and gratitude with a typical response: “It wasn’t a big deal,” he’d say, “I was just doing what I had to do.” His response is similar to many responses I’ve heard from veterans during my time as an educator. Yet our American way of life has been protected by millions of men and women who did what they must. Nations are built by people who do what they must. Justice is kept by people who do what they must, even when it is difficult. We at Ambleside offer our deepest gratitude today for our service members who have offered their lives for our children and our country.
Veterans Day is a day at Ambleside when students, faculty, and the community can say thank you to veterans for their service and for doing their duty. Our students work diligently for months preparing songs, art, and readings to share with guests and veterans from our families and community. Displaying gratitude for the service of others helps to teach our children to take the focus off of self and to be aware of those around them. Veterans Day teaches them to interact with those older than they are, and teaches them citizenship and patriotism. Please enjoy these photos of our service, and take time to thank a veteran today. These men and women who serve had courage in doing their duty even when it was difficult. And, while courage is required and shown by all members of our society, both civilian and military, it is invaluable to have the example of the men and women of our armed forces to look up to and emulate. William James wrote about people of courage:
“The huge world that girdles us about, puts all sorts of questions to us, and tests us in all sorts of ways. Some of the tests we meet by actions that are easy, and some of the questions we answer in articulately formulated words. But the deepest question that is ever asked admits of no reply but the dumb turning of the will and tightening of our heart-strings as we say, ‘Yes, I will even have it so!’ When a dreadful object is presented, or when life as a whole turns up its dark abysses to our view, then the worthless ones among us lose their hold on the situation altogether... But the heroic mind does differently... It can face them if necessary, without for that losing its hold upon the rest of life. The world thus finds in the heroic man its worthy match and mate... He can stand.”
Thank you, veterans, for your example for all of us about what it means to stand up to do our duties, and to face the struggles and “dark abysses” of life. Thank you for what you have given and what you continue to give to our Ambleside community and our great country.