The children are watching us. Years ago I asked my nephew about the men I had introduced to him over the years and what they had in common. He was 8 or 9 at the time and I was interested to see what he had discerned from my friends. He sat for a minute or two in thought and shared that they had common traits.
Each man he talked about that day worked and supported their family. Each man was faithful to his wife and never said insulting things about her. Each was involved at one church or another. He understood that they all voted and kept track of what was happening in the nation and the world. Some were veterans and some were not but all loved the United States. He knew they volunteered in this community and that they did not break the law. He shared that he never heard them swear and he told me that other people liked and respected them.
I was delighted that he had seen these men as good examples and I told him that he needed to grow up like those men.
Children pay attention and we teach lessons all day long. Do you follow the rules and obey the laws or have you shown that it is only illegal or wrong “if you get caught?” Do you teach them responsibility by taking care of what you need to care for or do you allow others to “pick up your slack?” Do you share that education is important by watching the children do the homework and attend school regularly or do you pull them out to get in line for the newest roller coaster or for shopping?
The children also learn right from wrong from our behaviors more than from our words. This past week, my family and I enjoyed a movie at the MET Cinema. The MET now must ask folks to show the contents of their bags because people are sneaking in candy and treats from the outside. MET founders Rusty and Sara Murphy were good friends and they often commented that a movie theater is really just a concession stand with a draw. The studios take 95 percent of the ticket price and what keeps the doors open are the concessions. Yes, the popcorn may seem expensive but it is fresh, tastes really great, and pays the bills for the MET. The membership fee pays for the films. The candy and sodas support everything else. Telling the kids to be honest and then handing them candy you sneaked in to save a dollar or two tells the kids you are willing to cheat. Don’t be mad when they lie to you.
This past Memorial Day, I attended the fabulous community prayer service at the Little Church which was followed by the Marine Corps League outdoor remembrance service. It grew cold but the large crowd stayed until the final note of Taps sounded. What was really delightful were the 20 children in attendance wearing patriotic colors and being ever so respectful with their quiet and polite manners. Those kids were being taught by their parents and grandparents that Memorial Day was important and that somebody had made great sacrifices for their freedom. It doesn’t all sink in but those kids learned that particular day means something and that lesson will remain with them for years.
The veterans honored on Memorial Day gave us the freedom to live in a great country. Don’t dishonor their sacrifice by teaching the next generation the wrong lessons. Freedom comes with civic responsibilities. They’re watching us.