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A Tradition Started By Her Vietnam Vet Father, A Wilmette Teacher Now Has Students Write Thank You Letters To Vets

CHICAGO (CBS) -Have you thanked a veteran today?

It's tradition for a Wilmette teacher to write letters of gratitude for Veteran's Day, who sent hundreds of them nationwide this year, with a little help.  CBS 2's Marie Saavedra has her story.

"Today is an important day for my whole family," Kennedy said. "And a lot of it is because it was such an important day for my father."

Her father, Army Sargent Jerry Forsyth, marked the day in his later years by giving fellow servicemembers something he didn't get after serving in Vietnam.

"He expressed that when they came back, they weren't welcomed back," Kennedy said.

So he sent 10 letters of thanks. Before his death in 2018, Kennedy promised to continue her father's work. She found classrooms of kids willing to write, where she teaches at Wilmette's Harper Elementary.

"I wanted them to know that we're here for them and we feel very appreciative and thankful for them," said one fourth grader.

Once the students got ahold of this idea, it took off like wildfire. The first year they sent about 100. In its third year, they've sent almost 1,000.

"I said like thank you for being in the armed forces," said a first grader. "I am pretty sure it made them feel good."

The only thing better than the letters are the responses.

"One of the messages we received was that he was going to keep it forever," Kennedy said.

That means hundreds of smiles brought to veterans faces from the Harper Community. But Kennedy said it's what the kids are learning that would make Sargent Forsyth most proud.

"For him to let these little ones know that someone's looking out for them, and is taking care of the United states and everything that it stands for, it would mean so much to him," Kennedy said.

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