November is one of the busiest months of the school year with Election Day, the NJEA Convention, American Education Week, and Thanksgiving, but I want to call special attention to Veterans Day and the dedication and sacrifice of the people in our Armed Forces.
I always enjoy hearing about the special activities that our members organize to honor our veterans, but the ones that I have found to be the most moving are when veterans are encouraged to share their stories with our students. Their testimony is powerful, and it leaves an impression not only on our students, but on everyone who hears it.
At a time when our country feels so divided, I think it is more important than ever that we listen to—and learn from—our military veterans. I am inspired by their perspective on the sacrifices that they and their families have made. Their devotion to our country and the values that we all share, equality and justice, in particular, remind me that there are many ways to express our patriotism. We all want the United States to be a beacon of hope, promise and liberty. While some may bristle at criticism of the government, it is a vital tool in “ensuring the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” as the framers of the U.S. Constitution wrote.
As you well know, New Jersey’s public schools have been named the best in the nation for the second year in a row by Education Week. We have worked hard to achieve that distinction, and we are rightly proud of it. But we also know that we can improve. We will be required to change with the times. We must consider what is best for our individual students, as well as the group as a whole.
In much the same way, we must practice our patriotism by constantly striving to ensure that our democracy works for everyone—the poor as well as the powerful.
Together, we are educating our country’s next generation, and I am very proud of our students who will go on to lead the nation with knowledge, compassion and fairness.
With special thanks, I want to pay tribute to our NJEA members who are also military veterans. Your dedication to our country inspires and encourages all of us!
If you are a military veteran and an NJEA member, I hope you will consider joining NJEA’s Patriots Alliance, which is a coalition of NJEA members who are military retirees, veterans, JROTC instructors, reservists, and NJ National Guard. If you are interested in learning more, please visit njea.org/patriots.
Once again, thank you for all that you do to make our schools, communities, state and country strong. No matter what challenges we face, we are stronger together.
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