Valley View Elementary honored veterans of the past and present Monday with a celebration at the school that featured artwork commemorating U.S. wars and a skit about the price of freedom.
The school decided to create the event after a suggestion from a student’s grandparent, said Margaret Bohlin, gifted teacher for the school.
The man, who also is a veteran, helped Bohlin, Principal Mona Kirk and teacher Irma Nevarez organize the short program, which coincided with the school’s annual Reading Night.
Students displayed posters they’d created to represent different branches of the Armed Forces. Others commemorated U.S. wars from World War I to Afghanistan.
Fifth-grader Anyssa Torrez held the poster for the National Guard and was one of the students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance for the assembly.
“Veterans are heroic because they put their lives in danger for our freedoms,” said Torrez, 10, whose father is a veteran.
Nevarez’s third grade class also performed a skit. In it, two students are working on a project where they ask elders in the community, “What does freedom mean to you?”
One character talked about the importance of veterans. “Our country has to be ready to defend its freedoms at a moment’s notice,” she said. “Freedom is a gift, not a privilege.”
Norman Melvin of the Roswell Honor Guard said he enjoyed seeing the children act as people his age. “Old age is not a concept they can relate to,” said Melvin, 82. “We’re like another species.”
Melvin, whose long, white beard frames his face and splits down the middle of his chin, is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and has served in the Honor Guard for 19 years. He said the program was “very good for the kids.”
Students also wrote thank you notes to veterans and distributed them to veterans in attendance.
Sgt. Michael Garcia of the U.S. Army received several and smiled at each one.
“Thank you for going to wars to save our country,” one said. “I am thankful for you saving our country. Thanks for all you do.”
Garcia, whose wife, Sonya, teaches third grade at the school, returned last December from a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
He said the school has always shown appreciation to members of the military, from classes sending along letters and care packages to the high fives he gets from students when he visits.
“Anything that they do, it shows that we’re appreciated,” said Garcia, who wore his combat uniform and boots. “To know that the kids are looking up to us is a great thing.”
Garcia said he would keep the notes in his toolbox at work.