I took the kids to the Memorial day parade, dedication, and wreath placing this year. It was the first year I "made" them sit through most of it, and they had a lot of questions. There's no doubt that they were there for the parade more than the speeches.
As we walked from the town's Veteran's Memorial to the graveyard I was fielding all kinds of questions.
"Who was the woman [who spoke]?" She was an Army Vet, recently released from Bethesda after having an IED "only do soft tissue damage" to her legs while deployed. She spent 6 months recovering and she walked in the Parade.
That was the easy one this year. As we walked we started talking about why countries would go to war. I explained that it's a lot like the kids getting into a fight at school. It may make sense at the moment, but in the end you both end up beat and wonder why you did it. As I'm explaining this, I notice a woman in her late 40s hovering near us. As I start to wonder, and stop talking, she prompts me to continue.
"I want to hear the end," she said. "You must be a teacher. Do you teach?"
"No, I'm a software engineer."
She continues with us as I finish the analogy and we all reach the graveyard for the Wreath Ceremony. I wish I had said thank you to her. She made my day with that simple complement - especially after a close friend told me that the only way I know how to teach is by hurting people.