Veterans Day ought to be a time set aside for honoring the many millions of American men and women in uniform, alive and deceased, past and present. On that date, it is especially important that children take time to learn about, and pay respect to, those who have served in our armed forces.

For young people, the best place for that learning and respect is school.

Since 1995, state law has allowed public schools to open on Veterans Day, provided they offer programs about veterans. About 60 school districts so far have opted to open.

The change displeases some vets, and it's not hard to see why; they see it as somehow demoting the day, offering a mere tip of the hat instead of a smart salute. On "real" holidays, they say, schools are closed.

That argument, however understandable, misses the mark.

Were students to be given the day off, how many would take even a little time to learn about and honor veterans? It is much more likely that they would do what children always want to do on a school holiday: have fun. That would diminish the very purpose of setting aside a special time for those who have served the country in peace and war.

In addition, the process of honoring veterans in the fall has become somewhat diffuse. This year, the official Connecticut Veterans Parade is being held on Sunday, Nov. 3, in Hartford, more than a week before Veterans Day. Winning essays written by middle school students on the subject "Why do we honor veterans?" were read at the State Capitol on Oct. 30.

Using time in school each Nov. 11 to discuss the contributions of veterans refocuses students on the purpose of the day, originally called Armistice Day in honor of the end of The Great War, later known as World War I. Pausing at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, as will happen this year in many schools, is the correct way to remember and thank those who have given so much.