In observance of Veterans Day, schools will be closed on Monday, November 12, 2018. This is a day when we honor the men and women who have served in the military. I am grateful to all of those service members who have taken the oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” as the basis of their service. I took this oath back in 1980 just after having graduated from high school and that was a big day for me. We recognize the commitment that our veterans make towards protecting our Constitution and that this service often involves great sacrifice and hardship.
We can all benefit from a good working definition of service (or more specifically, selfless service) whether we are students, teachers, staff, families, community members, veterans or non-veterans. As a U.S. Army veteran, I have found the following definition of selfless service to be most helpful (especially in my current role as superintendent) and this may have practical meaning for our South Orangetown community as well:
People who demonstrate selfless service:
- Put the welfare of the nation and others before their own.
- Sustain team morale.
- Share others’ hardships.
- Give credit for success to others and accept responsibility for failure themselves.
Sometimes serving selflessly is difficult when we are trying to promote our own self-interests – for many of us, being selfless is something that we have to consciously think about. It’s not a natural instinct for most humans. Some of us join service organizations or faith-based groups to make selfless service a habit. A good example of this is our Tappan Zee High School Blood Drive Team in collaboration with the American Red Cross. These are students who make an effort to serve “the greater good” beyond those personal benefits afforded to each.
The best way to honor the selfless service of our veterans is to engage in a service project of your own or through a non-for profit, service-oriented group. If you are not a member of a service organization, now is a great time to get started.
Have a safe Veterans Day and please remember to thank a veteran through your own commitments to serving others.