Tomorrow is Veterans’ Day. This is a day when we intentionally honor those who during their lives protected this county from its enemies. Veterans’ Day is celebrated on the 11th of November because this is the day that the armistice was signed in 1918, ending the first World War. It is said that this signing took place in the eleventh month of the year, on the eleventh day of the month, at the eleventh hour.
Earlier in our history, Abraham Lincoln and other dignitaries, gathered on the battle field at Gettysburg to commemorate the loss of life on this battlefield. In one of the most poignant yet simple speeches, Lincoln declared:
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
So, here we are, over 90 years since the end of World War I, nearly 150 years since Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg, and well over two hundred years since the birth of this country and the question is, have we kept faith with these honored dead who gave “the last full measure of devotion”? Until all American children have an equal opportunity to recognize their full potential, I believe we still have work to do. According to Rod Paige, former Secretary of Education, in a press release on February 1, 2010, “closing the achievement gap is the civil rights issue of this generation”. After-school has a role to play in closing this gap, in making a difference for young people throughout this country. The cause of after-school, of out-of-school time learning, must be championed. After-school is a breath of fresh air in the K-12 Public Education System that is struggling to reform and reinvent itself. It is an opportunity to pave the way to new ways of learning that will capture the whole child—body, heart, mind, and spirit, and revitalize learning in this nation.
The promise of America is that ALL people will have equal opportunities to become, to recognize the potential they were born with.