On Veterans Day, students at Resurrection-St. Paul School in Ellicott City learned that it's not just the men and women of the armed forces who deserve honor and recognition, but their families as well.
"Veterans Day is about families, too," President and CEO of the Armed Forces Foundation Patricia Driscoll told students Monday. "Everyone can do something to help, and that's what this week is about. The families at home have a tough time, too, and they need just as much of a boost to keep them motivated. ... Families serve, too."
Resurrection-St. Paul this week is partnering with Driscoll's foundation in Operation Caring Classroom, an educational initiative that increases awareness, appreciation and support for military families across the country, Driscoll said. Throughout the week, students will listen to guest speakers and learn more about the military, military families and the transition from military to civilian life. It's the second year for the partnership, which kicked off Monday at a breakfast for veterans and their families and a Mass at the school and church.
Through the partnership, Resurrection-St. Paul students will become pen pals with students at Major George S. Welch Elementary School at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Driscoll said the foundation tries to partner schools on military bases with schools with few military families.
Resurrection-St. Paul Principal Karen Murphy said there are six or seven military families in the school of nearly 500 students.
"We don't have the immediate connection, that exposure," Murphy said. "But in the last 10 years, as our military presence abroad has grown, the kids need to be aware that there are people fighting for them. [The initiative] is very child-centered, and it's about children taking care of each other and recognizing that we appreciate their moms and dads in the service."
About 50 people were at the veterans breakfast Monday morning, including the active and retired armed forces veterans in the Resurrection-St. Paul community and their families.
"It's nice to be recognized, and it's important — not about me, but about recognizing the men and women who have done so much for their country, and honoring their service and sacrifice," said Sean Costello, of Ellicott City, who is a retired lieutenant colonel, president of the Resurrection-St. Paul school board and father of two students. "The way the world is today, we kind of lose touch with those things sometimes, and it's nice to honor everyone who has served."
After breakfast, Mass opened with "America the Beautiful," sung by Resurrection-St. Paul students, and concluded with "My Country Tis of Thee." After Mass, students saw a video from soldiers stationed in Djibouti, Africa. The students had sent the soldiers letters earlier this school year, commemorating Sept. 11 and thanking them for their service.
During his sermon, the Rev. Msgr. John Dietzenbach showed students photos from a recent trip to Normandy, and spoke to students about the importance of the armed forces, and the importance of honoring them.
"We know we live in a world where justice isn't always evident," he said in his sermon. "Part of the call is to seek justice."
Dietzenbach spoke of the balance between the Bible's call to rebuke those who sin and forgive, and pointed out that Veterans Day also falls on the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who became likely the first conscientious objector.
"We don't just seek justice," he said. "We have to know when the time is to forgive. Today we think about the military men and women who protect us and bring justice about in the world."