How do you thank a veteran? What is a veteran? Why do we say the Pledge of Allegiance? These are just a few of the many questions that were addressed at Leighton Elementary’s Veterans Day Ceremony. PreK-6 grade students were joined in the gymnasium by over thirty active service members and retired veterans, many of them family members of Leighton students. Each branch of the military was represented by the visiting veterans, some of whom shared personal accounts of what it means to be in the military and why they joined. Music was a big part of the ceremony. All students, led by their music teacher Mrs. McKenney-Myers, sang songs to the veterans, which they learned is one way to give thanks. 6th grade flute soloist, Anna Cloonan, gave thanks to the veterans with a display of her own bravery by delivering a flawless performance of God Bless America.
Back in the classrooms, students were able to explore MREs (meals ready to eat), learn about service dogs, and receive their very own dog tags to wear. Veterans visited the classrooms to have further conversations with the students and answer more questions.
Pride, respect, and honor were feelings that could be seen and felt by all in attendance. The students were terrifically respectful and well behaved in the gymnasium and in the classrooms. Event organizer, 5th grade teacher Mr. James Hartmann, a veteran himself, expressed his admiration for the many young people who were able to come together, put their differences aside, and learn what it means to honor those who have sacrificed and served on our behalf. Several of the veterans said they were humbled by the high level of respect they experienced during their visit. The success of this event was a reflection of the character of the students at Leighton Elementary.
Leighton students learned what a veteran is exactly the many ways to thank a veteran. The students learned about the parts of the Pledge of Allegiance from a veteran before pledging the flag.This was followed by singing patriotic songs, including “America, The Beautiful” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag”. Anna Cloonan played a flute solo of “God Bless America” for the assembly. Students who had a veteran in the family invited the veteran to the assembly. These students were given flag pins to present to their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather during the assembly. Later, in classrooms, students were able to experience MREs (meals ready to eat) and some of the veterans stayed to speak. Dog tags were handed out to the students, too. Students learned that being in the military is something of which these soldiers are proud. You could see this in their faces during the songs - the glisten of tears in their eyes, the boots tapping to the music, the hands clasped in laps...these men and women serve our country proudly and bravely everyday. Our students learned how to honor them with dignity and respect.