Students at El Capitan Elementary School give high-fives to members of the military and emergency personnel following an assembly held Wednesday afternoon. Mark Wilson Photo
The lights went out in the gym at El Capitan Elementary and when they came back on, all eyes were on the American flag at the front of the room waving in a simulated breeze as former student Kathy Anderson Cook sang the national anthem.
This scene recreating the dawn’s early light hitting the American flag and inspiring Francis Scott Key, was one of the events at the school’s Veterans Day assembly Wednesday afternoon.
The assembly began with a narrative of the how the Star-Spangled Banner was written and after the singing of the national anthem, a few students assisted in folding the flag while Taps played in the background. This was followed by distributing Character Counts! awards. The purpose of the day’s program was to educate students about the role soldiers play in their lives, as well as instill a sense of patriotism.
The day’s events were also in memory of Sgt. Chris Sanders. Sanders was a student at El Capitan during the late 1990s and joined the military after attending New Mexico Military Institute. He died in 2008 from wounds suffered in Iraq when an improvised explosive device detonated during combat.
Army Reserve 1st Lt. Chris Mullennix was in attendance and said he was pleased to see such values are being taught at such a young age.
“It’s good to know that schools are teaching the kids the importance of the flag and the importance of Veterans Day. To be a part of that is a great feeling,” he said. “I was not [as aware of the importance of Veterans Day at their age], so it’s good to see that awareness is being heightened a little bit at a younger age.”
One of those students who was able to learn from the assembly was Jordyn Verastigue, secretary of El Capitan’s student council. By participating in the program, she said she learned just how important soldiers are.
“Veterans are heroes to us,” she said. “They saved our lives and they deserve to be shown appreciation.”
In honor of Veterans Day and all those who serve, students also collected 415 items for the Adopt a Soldier program.