Saturday, November 10, 2007

Teaching Loyalty

The Fighting Gillises - Norman Rockwell

I have been influenced in my educational philosophy by Charlotte Mason an educator who lived in England and died in 1923. Miss Mason wrote that children are persons with the ability to chose between good and evil and part of the goal of their education is moral teaching. Loyalty is one of the virtues held in esteem by Miss Mason and patriotism is a way of teaching loyalty.

On our trip to the grocery this week there was an older gentleman from the V.F.W. selling poppies as often happens around Veteran's Day. He was a sweet gentle soul and for the change I put in his collection jar he made sure that both my children had poppies (more on the poppies here) and then tried to give me one too. It struck me later that this sweet older gentleman was likely in some pretty scary places as a young man. He may have seen some horrific things during his service to our country. That's why it's called SERVICE. He put aside his own wants and needs to SERVE our country. He was obedient to the call for help. That obedience comes through loyalty.

Thinking on loyalty brought to mind another older gentleman I'm acquainted with. This gentleman is a door greeter at my church. He loves children and when we come through the door he always pretends there is a baby bird in his pocket and pulls it out to show my children. He makes little soft chirping sounds and bends down to show them. As they peer closer and closer he puts the "bird" back in his pocket to keep it safe. It never fails to delight.
In his youth this young man parachuted into Europe over enemy territory during World War II. He got stuck in a tree and considered himself fortunate since another friend who parachuted in with him was shot on the way down. He was captured and put in a prison camp. I've heard him testify that his faith in God was all that got him through those long months. After all these years he still tells the story with a catch in his throat. Yet despite his suffering he loves this country and still dons his cap and salutes the flag on patriotic holidays. That is loyalty.

A wonderful book to help you teach your children about loyalty, obedience and sacrifice is In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae. The illustrations are beautiful and with the text of the poem manage to communicate feelings that are difficult to put into words. The poem was written after a friend of McCrae's was killed in World War I and it urges the reader to remember the sacrifice made by the soldiers. In between the pages of the poem are pages devoted to historical information about John McCrae and World War I.

Take this Veteran's day to tell your children about the soldiers and their families who acted out of obedience to this country by serving in our military. Introduce them to someone you know who served our country. Let them see you thank the Veterans you see for their service. For their loyalty.


Donna-Jean said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you! I will look up the book you mentioned, as that is a favorite poem here.

Jill said...

Thank you Donna-Jean!

AllyJo said...

I'm going to buy that book. We just finished studying WW1 and I think we "need" it. Thank you for the reminder of loyality. People aren't loyal any's all about self.

Leila - mommyof4 said...

My grandfather, who passeed away this January at age 86, was a prisioner of war in WWII. We keep an American flag that has iron on pictures of him, my father-in-law and grandfather-in-law (in Vietnam and WWII) hanging in our living room. I thought it reminded us of sacrifice and courage. Now I can add loyalty to that list as well. Thanks so much!

keri said...

Just checked...
My library has it!
Thank you for the recommendation.
You can see the youtube movie here:

brooke said...

Jill, this is a beautiful post.


Jill said...

Keri thanks for the link! It was very well done. Leila and Allyjo - thanks for stopping by and sharing!

Jill said...

Thank you my dear sweet Boroke, you with the identity crisis : )

JacciM said...

Jill, this is a beautifully written post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it :)

Recently, our children have become quite enthralled with the idea of battles (thanks, 50 Famous Stories). So much so, though, that I felt balance was needed. I've tried to show them, in an age appropriate way, that war is nothing to be sought after, nothing to want. Men fight, not because it is fun for them to run around with swords and guns, but because they must - often at great loss. I don't want them to miss the "informing idea" that soldiers sacrifice a great deal because they are putting others above themselves. It sounds like the book you have mentioned would be an excellent help in conveying some of those ideas. Thanks so much for the recommendation!