Veterans Day gave Jefferson Elementary a chance to honor veterans and teach students about the importance of the holiday.
Third, fourth and fifth grade students got a chance to meet veterans, ask them questions and learn about their time in their respective branches of the military before the program, We Salute Our Veterans, began on Monday afternoon.
Jaiana Holmes, a second grade teacher at Jefferson and herself a veteran, said the school does events like this every year. She said as often as she participates in Q&As like Monday’s, she still has to consider her answers carefully.
“Kids at this age are very curious, but they don’t hold back either,” Holmes said. “We get honest, open questions and we give them answers that are as honest as we can get. Sometimes you want to give them the truth of what it is to be in the military, and you can’t.”
Students participated in the presentation as well. The Jefferson color guard presented the flag, different grades recited poems, and the Jefferson drill team performed for guests.
Wayne Lawson, a retired US Army Sergeant, spoke to the students about the significance of Veterans Day.
“Thank you, Jefferson Elementary School, for this honor,” Lawson said. “Thank you for remembering the veterans and what this means to our nation.”
Lawson mentioned
students’ earlier questions about the difficulties of military life, explaining that for military personnel, their lives are not their own in many ways.
“I bet you feel that way now,” Lawson said to the students. “Parents tell you when to eat, when to go to school, when to go to sleep. A lot of times, the military is the same way. You give up your life for the freedoms of our country.”
He explained the different branches of the armed forces and the different roles a person can play. Lawson explained that he worked in administration, but would have been expected to fight if necessary.
“Sometimes we go oversees with our families, many times we go overseas without our families,” Lawson said. “That makes it very difficult.”
Lawson talked about his family’s history in the military.
“We treat the military like a family business,” Lawson said. “Less than one percent of the adult population makes the decision to join the armed forces.”
He also took a moment to acknowledge those who were prisoners of war or missing in action, stressing the importance of sacrifice.
“They made the decision to go fight and they were never able to come home and eat dinner with their family again, not able to hold their child or grandchild,” Lawson said. “It really is a sacrifice to join the military.”