Tuesday afternoon, grandfathers, parents and even some teachers ducked below some star-spangled streamers and into Mr. Jamison’s fourth-grade class.
They were veterans.
For a second year in a row, Jamie Jamison’s class at Mallard Creek Elementary School welcomed military veterans to their room for a luncheon and several presentations of appreciation.
Some students gave PowerPoint presentations outlining what they knew about the five branches of military service. Others sang original songs or recited poems of gratitude.
Zaria Herriman, 9, was the chairwoman of the class’ luncheon committee.
“I think it’s nice to celebrate this because it makes them feel like they’re welcome,” she said. Her grandfather, Jim Herriman, agreed. “It’s pretty good,” he said with a smile. Herriman served in the Air Force in the 1950s.
“Sometimes it’s nice to sit down with your children and grandchildren and talk about what you went through, because it’s probably a bit different (than what they’ve experienced),” he said.
So that’s what the veterans did after the students finished their presentations.
One mother, Melissa Carrara, served as a logistician in the Army from 1999 to 2002. She talked about what it was like for the country after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks happened, which none of the students had experienced because they were born after 2001.
“That was a very, very scary time,” Carrara told the students. She asked them whether their parents drop them off at school, and to imagine having to have their trunks and backpacks checked for bombs, saying that’s what they had to do at the Army base shortly after 9/11.
One dad, Martin Horne, served in the Navy for 20 years and was deployed in both Gulf Wars. He talked about the time the ship he was on, headed to the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain, caught fire when its boiler blew up. He lost two friends in the fire.
A teacher, Wayne Pickett, served in the Navy, working on aircraft carriers.
“The work was hard, but we did what we had to do to serve our country,” he told the students.
Discussion of military service got the fourth-graders asking questions about war and American history:
“What is the concept of war?”
“Is there a certain reason why other countries want to fight against the United States?”
“Who fought in the Civil War, again?”
Jamison said he looked forward to teaching more about American history, and that his students would start to learn more in depth about American history and wars next year in the fifth grade.
But more than anything, Tuesday’s celebration was an opportunity for the students to let veterans know that their service is appreciated.
“I’d like to say thank you,” said Camille Robertson, 9, “because sometimes I think if they hadn’t been there for us, we wouldn’t be here now.”