This was a town with a high-profile air base. Many students were children of airmen. I recall, specifically, looking at little Mattie. She was a happy little girl, all smiles and curls. She came to me the next day, with something in her eyes that was deeper than the wide-eyed awe and confusion that many of the children had returned with. She new her father would be leaving soon.
As the weeks went on and the halls became draped with giant hand-print American flags and artwork depicting the burning towers, Mattie decided that she would show her patriotism and love for her father by wearing a small American Flag pin made out of safety pins and beads.
One day I came in, after shadowing kids at recess, to find Mattie in tears. She had lost her pin. She had shown very little sadness and only talked about her father with pride, never that she missed him. At that moment, though, I knew that she was not crying over her pin. She was crying because we missed her father, her hero, her daddy.
On this Memorial Day, lets recognize the sacrifice of those that have died in combat for our country, but lets also recognize those in the military who lose time with their loved ones while in service. Finally, lets recognize the sacrifice of children who lose months and years with a parent so that we can live in a free and prosperous land. They give us a beautiful gift.