If you have access to emails, you may have received this one. If you have, I apologize for the repeat. If you have not read this before, goody! I received it a few months ago and as soon as I read it, I thought, "This is one to share with the readers for Veterans Day."
I confirmed with Snopes that it is indeed true. So here it is.
In September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a history teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock, Arkansas did something not to be forgotten.
On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks in her classroom.
When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were no desks.
"Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?" came the question.
She replied, "You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk."
They said, "Maybe it's our grades."
"No," she said.
"Maybe it's our behavior."
She told them, "No, it's not even your behavior."
And so, they came and went. The first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom.
Kids called their parents to tell them what was happening and by early afternoon television news crews had started gathering at the school to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.
The final period of the day came. The puzzled students found seats on the floor of the desk-less classroom.
Martha Cothren said, "Throughout the day, no one has been able to tell me just what he or she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you."
At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it. Twenty-seven (27) U.S. veterans, all in uniform, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they walked over and stood alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.
Martha said, "You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. They went halfway around the world, giving up their education and interrupting their careers and families so you could have the freedom you have. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget it."
Martha Cothren was awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars Teacher of the Year for the State of Arkansas in 2006. She is the daughter of a World War II POW.
I applaud Martha Cothren for getting a message across to her students in a way they'll never forget. And as wonderful a teacher as she is, there are many others who have taken up the challenge to help our children understand the importance of our veterans. We have many in our very own readership. Almost every school has a Veterans Day program or observance, in addition to American Legions and veterans organizations.
Mark Tramontina, a social studies teacher at Pleasant Valley High School began a Veterans Day program 17 years ago.
In 1996, his students wanted to do something to honor the veterans. He asked what they wanted to do and they said, "Let's do a program."
That year and the next, his second and fourth period classes invited veterans to come into his classroom on Veterans Day and talk about their experiences. Other classes heard about the program and asked to come in to hear what the veterans had to say. By the third year, the program moved into the small high school gym to accommodate the students and grew so much that it had to be moved into the large gym.
In 2010 he was named as the Pennsylvania state's American Legion's Educator of the Year for his dedication to honoring American veterans.
"The idea of the Veterans Day Program began as a way to make Veterans Day personal to high school students and to put a spotlight on those who served this nation," he says.
PVHS is only one school out of all the others in our readership that hold Veterans Day programs.
I really like that they have programs in the elementary schools, like Towamensing Elementary. Young children are like sponges and absorb so much that shapes their lives. By introducing the importance of thanking our veterans for the service they have given to our country at an early age, hopefully they grow into adults who understand the sacrifice veterans have made to ensure the safety of our rights and freedoms.
Thank you to all those who have served.