Years ago, I received an email from one of our STEM parents on the topic of STEM’s school calendar reflecting November 11th as a Professional Development Day and not Veterans Day . He was a Colonel in the Air Force, I believe, and used his full command presence to let me know of his displeasure. While STEM and DCSD do not list national holidays on our Academic Calendars, each year since receiving that email, when our new Academic Calendar is published, my first check is to be certain that November 11th is not closed off from allowing our students and staff to be together to honor service members visiting STEM.
In years past, our secondary school was able to put together Veterans Day events that aligned with our course curriculum, welcoming veterans into our classrooms to share their stories. However, this year, due to COVID that is not an option.
To commemorate Veterans Day this year, I would like to invite our entire community to add their military family members to a list with any comments you wish to add with regard to their or your service. STEM has several veterans on staff and we will highlight their service. We would like to honor active duty, retired, former military, reserve, military who have passed, and of course, all veterans.
The United States Military used to be a common experience. Today, fewer than 3% of the households in the US even know someone who has served. Those who serve are our protectors of everything we hold dear and especially our freedom. They swear allegiance to the US Constitution. Some of our students are called to serve and have enlisted directly from high school, or Commissioned as officers through a service academy or through college programs. We currently have a STEM student at the US Air Force Academy and one at the Coast Guard Academy. We are still waiting for our first Naval Academy (Annapolis/ USNA)) and West Point (USMA) STEM student. Several STEM students are now proud Marines, as well as from other military branches.
The Colonel at the time, and even much of our community now, are not aware that I am a proud mother to two military officers. I wear an insignia on my STEM badge with two small blue stars. This insignia is Congressionally approved and only designated families may display this symbol. One of my sons is a Lieutenant Commander serving in the US Embassy in Delhi, negotiating with the Indian Military (in Hindi!) after being a submarine officer. My other son is a Captain serving a NATO assignment as an artillery expert after being on the Black Knight Parachute team. West Point and Annapolis are where they Commissioned.They fully embrace the challenge of being young officers in an uncertain world. I could not be more proud of them and their service. Like all military families, we share a bond of understanding that transcends the questions of personal safety for service.
The Colonel and I found common ground after sharing some of my story. He realized my deep commitment to those who serve and even quipped, “Who do you cheer for in the Army-Navy game?”
I hope you will take some time to add the names of all whom you wish to recognize as STEM salutes our military community using our STEM Veterans Day Recognition Form. This list will be published in our newsletter following Veterans Day.
P.J. Eucker PhD