Don’t know if you’ve ever seen this.  A great lesson for all kids.

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a
social studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock ,
did something not to be forgotten.

On the first day of school, with the permission of the school
superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed
all of the desks out of her classroom.

When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there
were no desks.

Looking around, confused, they asked,
‘Ms. Cothren, where’re our desks?’

She replied, ‘You can’t have a desk until you tell me what you have done
to earn the right to sit at a desk.’

They thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s our grades.
‘No,’ she said.

‘Maybe it’s our behavior.’
She told them, ‘No, it’s not even your behavior’.

And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third
period.  Still no desks in the classroom.

By early afternoon television news crews had started gathering in Ms.
Cothren’s classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all
the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats
on the floor of the desk less classroom.

Martha Cothren said, ‘Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me
just what he/she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are
ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.’

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom
and opened it.

Twenty-seven (27) U.S. Veterans, all in uniforms, walked into that
classroom, each one carrying a school desk.

The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall.

By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place those kids
started to understand, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just
how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.

Martha said, ‘You didn’t earn the right to sit at these desks.

These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you.
Now, it’s up to you to sit in them.

It is your responsibility to learn, to be
good students, to be good citizens.

They paid the price so that you
could have the freedom to get an education. Don’t ever forget it.’

By the way, this is a true story…. If you can read this, thank a
teacher. If you read it in English, thank a soldier.

Yes, it really is a true story..


  1. I have read these two stories several times and each time I become tear-ee eyed and have difficulties breathing because I know what each one means to me and know that words will never be able to express my feelings because they are so personnal.
    Sometimes a tear-streaked face speaks louder than what one person can shout with words.

  2. How can I write a comment??
    I’m still in tears reading Daddy’s Poem….
    Par for the course my friend!
    You Are Awesome!!!

  3. Wow. I’m wrecked. What great stories! If only the rest of this country would understand. Thank you, Major, and God bless you. Keep on taking it to ’em.

  4. I just wanted to thank you for the story of the teacher. I had read it before, but “lost” it somewhere in my archives. I wanted to try it in my classroom, with some modifications. If I’m allowed to do it, I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for all you do. You are an inspiration.

  5. I’m offering a dissenting opinion with all respect and sincerity, not to be wrong-headed just for the sake of it: this is unspeakable sentimental and jingoistic crap.

  6. Now this is a good example of irony! The soldiers are not fighting for the kids’ freedom, but for corporate interests in the war and oil industry. Due to these same interest, there is a ridiculous burden on the treasury. As a result, good public education is no longer affordable for the US. So in fact these soldiers symbolize exactly what is happening right now: The school’s resources are taken away by the war machinery. How clever a teacher…

  7. Carl V. “Sam” Lamb and I served side-by-side as rifle-squad
    leaders Fox Company, “Chesty” Puller’s 1st Marines, 1st Marine
    Division. He wrote a book about our experiences in the Korean
    conflict, 1950-1951. He included my remarks about an incident in
    which one of our people threatened to punch-out a fellow squad-
    leader who had black skin.
    + + +
    by Carl V. Lamb Page 296 (1951)
    James Fletcher Baxter
    Sam and I had a lot in common. We both resisted evil. After I
    got out of the hospital, ‘Big Jim’ Causey told of driving along
    in his police cruiser and hitting a black man in his head
    with his pistol. He thought it was funny how the guy sprawled
    into the street. When he made this comment we were in a card
    game. I didn’t say anything, but then he said he was going to
    kick the ____ out of Joe Goggins and I had heard enough.
    I said, “If you’re going to try that, you’ll have to go through
    me to get to him. I’m willing to give my life for a country
    that values each individual. If that isn’t true, I don’t want
    to fight for that country – but, it is true, so I’m not going
    to let you rob me of the very good reason I may lose my life
    tomorrow or next week. If you attack him, you attack me. I
    may lose, but I guarantee I will make it very expensive for
    you to get to him. Let me know what you decide.”
    He got up from our card game and said, “I’ll have to think
    about it.”
    I said, “Let me know. I’ll be here.”
    He came back a little later and said, “You’re right. I was
    wrong.” I thanked him for his manliness.
    Joe Goggins came to me later and thanked me. He had wet eyes.
    + + +
    Shortly after the above event, Causey was sent home on a
    medical emergency for a family member. On the way, he
    made a stop at a Naval medical facility stateside and ran into
    my brother, Sgt. Howard “Barney” Baxter, 5th Marines, with
    Chosen Reservoir frost-bitten feet. My brother said Causey
    told him what had happened, and that it had “changed his life
    forever.” Never again would he do “the collective thing” of race
    abuse. He saw the value of each individual, regardless of race,
    station, or gender. He even forgave himself and became a worthy
    and honorable U.S. Marine.
    Jim Baxter
    Sgt. USMC
    WWII & Korean War
    semper fidelis
    pointman/follower of The Lion of Judah

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