Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day... and a Giveaway!

Veterans Day was observed on November 11 from 1919 through 1970. Public Law 90-363, the "Monday Holiday Law," provided that, beginning in 1971, Veterans Day would be observed on "the fourth Monday in October." This movable observance date, which separated Veterans Day from the November 11 anniversary of WWI Armistice, proved unpopular. State after state moved its observance back to the traditional November 11 date, and finally Public Law 94-97 of September 18, 1975, required that, effective January 1, 1978, the observance of Veterans Day revert to November 11.
-The Teacher's Calendar, 2008-2009

I had originally planned an entirely different post with different books to celebrate Veterans Day this year. However, when I was offered this book, as well as 3 giveaway copies to blog readers, I knew that the book had to stand alone! Yes, it's that wonderful!

Raven, Margot Theis.
America's White Table.
May 2005.
Sleeping Bear Press.

Summary from Inside Jacket Cover:

A little-known tradition to the outside civilian world, "the white-table" originated during the time of the Vietnam War as a symbol for and remembrance to service members held prisoner of war or missing in action. Solitary and solemn, it is the table where no one will ever sit. As a special gift to her Uncle John, Katie and her sisters are asked to help set this white table for dinner one night. When Mama explains the significance of each item placed on the table, Katie comes to understand and appreciate the depth of sacrifice that her uncle, and each member of America's armed services, may be called to give. The white table has been set across America in mess halls and at military events for almost 30 years. In thoughtful, evocative prose, Margot Theis Raven, author of Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot, brings to life this ceremony of remembrance. Artist Mike Benny's intimate, detailed artwork gives a sense of meaning and shared experience.

I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with the idea of America's White Table. I was introduced to it seven years ago, the year after I graduated from high school. Here in Weedsport, part of our senior year community service requirement is participation in one of two annual events - Veterans Day Program (now a USO show, photos from this years show can be found here) or the Memorial Day Parade. It just depended on which semester you were taking Government. As part of each event, there is a night-time watchfire, among other activities. 2002 was the first year in which America's White Table was introduced to the activities. It was an incredibly moving display, and while I'll be honest in saying I didn't entirely understand it, this book certainly did wonders for clearing up any confusion I had!

I don't think many young children fully understand the concept of Veterans Day and much of the Veterans Day literature I came across really didn't do the holiday justice in honoring our Veterans. This book makes up for all of that, as it's written through the eyes of a child, allowing children the opportunity to really connect with the story! While your community may not be hosting any special Veterans Day activities, this book offers you a chance to honor our veterans with your children in your own home, very simply!
It was just a little white table...

but it felt as big as America when we helped Mama put
each item on it and she told us why it was so important.

"We use a small table, girls," she explained first,
"to show one soldier's lonely battle against many.
We cover it with a white table cloth to honor a soldier's
pure heart when he answers his country's call to duty.

We place a lemon slice and grains of salt on a plate
to show a captive soldier's bitter fate and the tears of families
waiting for loved ones to return," she continued.

"We push an empty chair to the table
for the missing soldiers who are not here."

"We lay a black napkin for the sorrow of captivity,
and turn over a glass for the meal that won't be eaten," she said.

"We place a white candle for peace and finally, a red rose
in a vase tied with a red ribbon for the hope that
all our missing will return someday."
As you can see from the quote above (from the book) this very small action could be set up on a coffee table or even at one end of your dinner table, opening the door for communication about just what Veterans Day is all about.

The publishers at Sleeping Bear Press don't want you to miss out on the opportunity to share with your children such an important part of American history and have therefore generously offered 3 copies of this title as a giveaway to my U.S. blog readers! All you have to do to get yourself entered in the drawing is leave a comment on this post no later than 11:59pm EST on Saturday, November 14, sharing with me how your family celebrates Veterans Day. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact winners!

If you're interested in finding out more information about any of the books reviewed or if you'd like to purchase the books, click the cover image for a link to


style='clear: both;' KR said...

We honor my Father (and other veterans)by making cards to be passed out at the Veterans Hospital - the hospital is too far for us to visit but our local rep takes them for us.


style='clear: both;' Mrs. Monroe said...

My class writes letters to veterans and current military people. We thank them for keeping us safe, happy, and free!!!

style='clear: both;' Unknown said...

I'd love to win this to share with my daughter!

style='clear: both;' rubynreba said...

My husband is a Viet Nam veteran. We always fly a flag, make cards and watch patriotic movies. We'd love this book. Thanks!

style='clear: both;' Debbie said...

We did something special this year with our Granddaughter. We made our own American Flag sang patriotic songs and taught her the Pledge of Alegiance. Then wrote about it on our blog.

style='clear: both;' Mozi Esme said...

The last 2 Veterans days weren't really celebrated - we were in Mozambique at the time. This year we made a Remembrance wreath of colored red poppies, and we went to the Veterans Day parade!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

style='clear: both;' Reading said...

We collected things to send to the troops overseas. My father in very involved in Project Homefront. All our friend gaves things that would make our soldiers serving away from home a little more comfortable.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

style='clear: both;' Homeschool Friend said...

Hi Katie! We already own this book, but I wnated to chime in and say that it is one of our favorites! We read it every year and then set our own white table. I am glad to see you are spreading the word about this treasure of a book!