Thursday Thirteen: What I Learned from Dad's Military Experience

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It seemed to me when I was growing up that everyone's dad did his time in the military before getting a job that would last a lifetime and starting a family. All our dads were similar in ways that were at once noteworthy and negligible--noteworthy when we were in trouble and negligible when we were not. Here are just a few of those things we learned from our dads:

1. Be early for everything.

2. Do what you're told.

3. Do not talk back--

4. Ever

5. Under any circumstance.

6. Do your best--

7. Always

8. Under every circumstance.

9. Speak the truth.

10. Make your parents proud.

11. Finish what you start.

12. Respect your elders.

13. The place you call home is your country. Love it.



Some mornings at school, I watch the kids who don't say the Pledge of Allegiance. I find this is most of our homeroom class of 20 kids. Are they lazy? Disloyal? Have they any idea what it means to promise to be loyal? Do they understand that the United States of America is who they are, that it is not some far off Other?
Do they understand that they are accountable for this place we call home? I wonder about these kids. I wonder if they have any idea what it might be like to be in love with the idea that they are home and they can make of it what they will. But it takes heart--heart raised on values that expect more and better all the time.

Comments

  1. hi sandy, this post has an impact on me, because i am from other country, and soon will become an american citizen, i need to learn that "Pledge of Allegiance" and all the other stuff about USA. :)

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  2. You have brought up some important thoughts to ponder here Sandy.

    I can SO relate to many of your points re: what you learned from your dad. Mine too, in terms of not talking back, EVER! Just one example.

    I think it is tragic when young people now do not realise the sacrifices that have been made, for all of us, in the name of freedom.

    On a more positive note, It is gratifying here in Canada to see all the (with higher attendance each passing year) crowds at Nov.11th ceremonies/ Many young people being a part of these events too.

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  3. thanks for the another informative post.
    My 13 List

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  4. Anonymous7:18 PM

    I think I also learned that there are things you just have to do. I'm surprised at home much balking there is around the basic things - paying bills, etc.

    Fabulous post - of course!

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  5. Anonymous7:39 PM

    I agree with a lot of that. 3, 4 and 5 are the same instruction, though, and I can't agree with that. One should never remain silent in the face of lies, false accusation, bigotry etc. As for pledging allegiance, well loyalty will come with conviction rather than coercion. Those who feel it will express it naturally. If there are some who don't well, too bad, their loss, but you can;t force it.

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  6. Anonymous8:53 PM

    As a vet I can most certainly agree with your father and as the daughters of two vets my daughters would also agree. :)

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  7. I agree with these things. We had rules and must do things which we grumbled about but it built character. It helped us make decisions when we were on our own. I do agree with Nicholas on speaking up when it is bigotry and lies. . . possibly accusation. But the context you wrote it was a learning tool in respecting parents. I want to relate a story about speaking up but can't think of it now -- will come back later. . .

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  8. I've noticed all too often that so many of the "hero's" of today don't place their hand over their hearts when the National Anthem is played. Now, I know that's not truly necessary... but it is respectful.

    Nicholas had some good thoughts on remaining silent in the face of lies and bogotry... but, like you, I was taught never to talk back. I was told, however, that I could come back later and present my argument. Often, that approach is less confrontational and more productive, anyway. And although loyalty can not be coerced, it can be taught... especially by example.

    And through words like yours, and teachers like you... Thanks you so much for your lovely post.(as ever and always)

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  9. Found it!!!!!!!!

    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.
    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.
    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.
    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a Jew.
    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.

    This is the only reason we would have to speak back to those in authority.

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  10. Those are 13 very important rules that I wish all kids would take to heart.

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  11. Anonymous8:58 PM

    I was actually taught NOT to say the pledge by my Marine father. He thought it was important that I learn not to obey without reason from an early age so when my teachers tried to tell me I *had* to say it he explained that the Pledge of Allegiance didn't even exist until the Cold War. It's something I still find rather interesting as he was a military man in every other aspect of his life.

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  12. Great post...I have a number of veterans in my family...including my maternal grandfather. When I got to high school, I stop saying the pledge also. I grew up at the tale end of segregation...the beginning of integration...the world I came from wasn't always fair, equal or just. It still isn't...but because my family taught me never to allow someone else to determine my worth...because my family owned businesses which didn't depend on the 'white man' (no offense...just keeping it real)...and because I was taught that I was as good or better than others and wasn't limited by the color of my skin...I did excel. Much of who we are comes from what we learn and are taught by others. Because my family was my first line of defense...I learned to depend on them rather than others...or even the government. Now that I'm older...I say the Pledge...but I think I do it more out of habit than anything because I know that living in America ain't always easy...ain't always fair...and some folks do try and judge me based on the color of my skin rather than the content of my character. But...I just keep the faith...and the belief that a Higher Being will make all things possible. Looking back on my teen years, I can understand why those kids don't say the Pledge. Not only didn't I say it but I didn't stand for it either. America has not always treated us all equal and some of us take that to heart.
    Happy TT.

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  13. My dad wasn't even in the military and these match his list!

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  14. Very thought provoking. Thanks, Happy T13!

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  15. Anonymous10:05 PM

    I am learning that from my Dad too. I'm only 11, so there's more to learn.

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  16. Anonymous10:27 PM

    Great post. Lots to think about.

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  17. How TOTALLY TRUE! I so agree and do believe I need to print your thirteen ... I do believe kids today are NOT taught these things they are sometimes told them but they think they are optional ... they are NOT.
    EXCELLENT post and very cool picture!

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  18. There are some things I miss about living on military bases, but others not so much. I remember learning much of this list, but I also remember being told it was okay to speak out and ask questions. Today's military is getting away from "blind obedience," but that doesn't mean it is abandoning "order and discipline."

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post. Happy TT!

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  19. it starts with the parents and what they are teaching their kids through their example. it's sad how so many take our freedoms for granted.

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  20. Anonymous11:15 PM

    I agree with Nicholas and Perbs. That being said, my husband, as a teacher has said how he asks that the kids rise for the Pledge and be respectful, but does not make them pledge. A Pledge of Allegiance is worthless unless it comes from the heart (which is why we place our hands there.)

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  21. Anonymous1:23 AM

    Smart Dads.

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  22. An important list - especially loving your country. This doesn't mean you have to love a particular type of politics, or anything like that. It is a more communal thing. And usually the politics is bad because not enough people love their country and speak out.

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  23. This whole whether to say or not say the pledge is big at my school too. I love your list about the things you learned from your father.

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  24. Kids don't have good examples nowadays. Corrupted politicians, scandals, divorces etc. How could they learn to be honnest and loyal !

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  25. Anonymous8:28 AM

    Sandy your posts makes me think of the breakdown of the family unit. I was taught the list you offered by my father too-with some additional main points too. But makes me wonder how many kids lack the influence of a father figure on a daily basis.

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  26. I also had a father in the air force. It's much to be proud of. Through the years he has taught me many things. I just can't believe some of the kids in your school don't say the Pledge of Allegiance. I think that's terrible. Wonderful TT Sandy!. Thanks for sharing.

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  27. Anonymous9:02 AM

    My dad was a WWII vet but we never learned that list. I remember the first time I said the Pledge of Allegiance as a preschool kid watching watching a kid's TV show. We pledged to a photo of Einsenhower and I wondered who he was. I remember feeling very important. Later in life I wanted a more world prayer to pledge to.

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  28. I can relate and miss days of the past. Feels like kids today just expect things to be handed to them. Yet I remember different rules for adults and kids I turned out ok. :)

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  29. Excellent post Sandy! And values that we could all learn from. Thank you :)

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  30. Very good list. I think kids should have to say this every morning at school.

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  31. I think a lot of it was the times--talking back was a big no-no when I was growing up. As a military family, we've taught our kids to think for themselves, rather than blindly obeying, but also to be polite and respectful even when disagreeing.

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  32. This post reminded me of EVERYTHING I EVER NEEDED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN. There are a few basic lessons that will carry is very far in life ... but I don't think kids today are learning them. As for accountability, I think it got lost in the 80s.

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  33. this is a GREAT post....it's definitely in my 10 5 for the week! happy tt!

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  34. Oh Sandy...this is wonderful. This is who we are. The Pledge of Allegiance should be mandatory in all schools, so they learn how hard fought for freedom that honor is.
    hugs
    Sandi

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  35. What a great discussion this post has generated. Well done Sandy. Looks like so many of us can relate to the upbringing you wrote about. Hugs, G

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  36. Thanks for visiting our list of tasty beers.

    I think all Dads are neurotic about being early! I didn't realize the Pledge of Allegiance was a choice - we always had to say it every morning. You don't even think about what you are saying as a child - time and life's circumstances give you the clarity to discover the meaning to/for yourself.

    Perb - that quote is etched into a stone at the Holocaust Memorial in Boston - it has always stuck with me.

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  37. Wow … these are lessons I learned at home too … and over the course of my 34 years in the classroom I observed them fade from consciousness in most of my students and their parents. I’ve pondered many of the same questions you raise for decades. We may never know why or how this change occurred, but I’m hopeful we’ll embrace these timeless values as a society … collectively one day again.
    Hugs and blessings,

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  38. What a sweet and humble TT. A wonderful tribute to Veteran's Day! (Thanks for visiting my TT)

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  39. In response to your previous post I said that my grandfather has always been deeply grateful to the American Navy. It is true. He spoke with the highest respect of Americans and also how they were never shy to lend a hand when there was work to do in the harbour either. He admired them for their no-nonsense attitude.

    But my family is really different from yours.

    None of my family were in the military. My cousins, didn't need to join, so they didn't, and they worked in hospitals most of their lives. My father was a teenager during the German occupation and he went in hiding shortly after his 18th birthday or he would have been deported. His younger brother after the war was called and went in the Navy, on purpose, because he thought it would mean he wouldn't need to fight. It turned out well for him because he got a permanent job doing publicity and invented a song and a slogan that has been used to recruit other young ones, more willing to fight than he was, for several decades. One of my grandfathers sailed on a merchant boat and didn't need to join the army for that reason and the other one had a crooked hand and never needed to join, but with the other hand he wrote several books on international law for the United Nations, about the Rules countries need to keep when they are at war. Yes, there are Rulz. The old saying "all is just in love and war"... well, according to my grandfather, it isn't so.
    In short: my family mostly fight with words.

    They taught me to always
    1. Be there when you're wanted.
    2. Try to do something useful
    3. Ask why if someone asks you to do something.
    4. Always
    5. If in doubt, discuss.
    6. Think for yourself and find solutions
    7. Always
    8. Under every circumstance.
    9. Speak the truth.
    10. Make your parents proud.
    11. Finish what you start.
    12. Respect your elders and your young ones.
    13. The countries surrounding yours are the homes to other people and they love them as much as you love yours.

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  40. Anonymous2:12 PM

    Well, even though I'm not in the US, I feel like a lot of the "old values" are vanishing. Does I say this because I'm getting old? I don't think so. It has with humanity to do. I see a lot of humanness disappearing nowadayse, which is bad for the humanity, of course.

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  41. Some of you are missing the point of this set of 13. It is about values you should be teaching your children when they are growing up. It is not about keeping your mouth shut in face of bigotry or telling the truth. It is about giving your children a good set of basic values, instead of what too many of the current generation of children have which is basic disrespect for humanity and society. Yes, I am a Vet and a father and Patriot. These are basic values that will serve then thruout their lives.

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  42. This was very moving and thought provoking.

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  43. Anonymous6:18 PM

    I learned a couple of slightly sillier things from my father's military experience on top of the usual ('cause he's silly, like me). I learned how to eat really fast and that listening to the same music for eight months means that you will never forget those songs. (My dad was on an aircraft carrier during Vietnam.)

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  44. Anonymous11:08 PM

    Well said, Sandy.

    God bless,

    Donna-Marie

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  45. Anonymous6:42 AM

    Imagine my shock when I stood up at our Fireman's parade two years ago and nobody else stood or saluted the flag.

    This year I was happy to see the whole street stood up and some, but not all, saluted the flag as it passed.

    I had written a newspaper article about the first incident and I guess a lot of people read it as the results were just the opposite this year.

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  46. Congrats on the Post of the Day mention, Sandy!
    Sandi

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  47. Sandy...This post is beautiful. I, too, used to watch my second graders and their inability to understand. Hopefully, they will in time. Like we do.

    Congrats on your POD award!

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  48. What a great post. I understand it as being about respect and honesty and high moral standards (not staying silent about abuses.) Our parents had them. We should have them. We need to instill them into our youngsters.

    Allegiance to the country is a personal thing. Personally I don't pledge allegiance because my allegiance is to my God. I love the earth. I really do - wherever I am. The earth is the land I love.

    A thought provoking 13. Standards have changed, and not always for the better. Fortunately there are people like you in the world Sandy, who will always see the best in others and always try.

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  49. Interesting post Sandy. Children here may soon have to swear an oath of allegiance. There is even talk that we may have a Britishness day. In some ways I think it might be a good thing and teach kids to respect the country they live in.

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  50. Hi, you've been TAGGED. Sorry to spoil your Sunday!

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