After our Veterans Day assembly, the student who coordinated much of the proceedings came to visit during class. With him came the father of a former student, a vet who served in Vietnam and who had been kind enough to share his experiences with my junior classes last year. I stepped out in the hall to chat, as freshfolks continued grinding out essays about their reading. He spoke briefly about his son, currently serving, who had once been a terror in my debate class. Said he was grown up now.
They left, and I shepherded the freshfolks through the rest of the exam.
Later that afternoon, during my prep period, I caught up with the student. I mentioned just how meaningful the assembly had been. He graciously accepted praise, but was quick to change the subject to the war-weary vet. The two had spent the afternoon walking around campus, talking about a soldier's life.
"He's done things... things you couldn't imagine," the student said. "But as he was walking around with me, seeing what we have here, he said to me, 'You know, this makes it all worthwhile.'"
After a weekend spent pondering the depth of that obligation, I return to teaching.