Veterans help students understand sacrifice |

Veterans help students understand sacrifice

A pair of Red Hill Elementary students bow heads while coach Robert Ellsworth plays Taps at the conclusion of the school's Veteran's Day assembly.
Pam Boyd/ |

The students at Red Hill Elementary School are likely a bit too young to understand the level of sacrifice made by our nation’s military veterans.

But they do understand vets deserve thanks. That’s what they offered during an all-school assembly last week.

Organized by teacher Robert Ellsworth, the all-school gathering brought a dozen veterans to Red Hill to briefly tell their stories of service. Three students shared essays they had written about the importance of Veterans Day and Ellsworth played “Taps” on his harmonica. The event elicited both laughter and tears.

“Veterans Day is important to me because it is honoring people that have risked their lives just to keep us safe,” wrote student Kassie Carpenter. “Every day many, many people commit to helping our country.”

Carpenter also referenced a message that the veterans assembled at the school shared — vets are just like everyone else. “There isn’t only one job to do in the army and navy, there are many. For example a Seal, a rescuer, a pilot and a doctor and there are still may more than that. There are so many jobs and each and every one is equally important like if a Seal to hurt in the war, the pilot would fly the plane to the scene and the rescue crew would pick them up and take them to the doctor and the doctor would try to help them feel better. See, it’s sort of like a chain reaction. Every person helps the other and if we keep encourage our veterans, we will keep their spirits high.”

One of the vets who spoke to the students noted that when he returned from service in Vietnam, he was shamed, not celebrated. For that reason, he said assemblies such as RHES’s event mean the world to him.

“This special holiday (Veterans Day) is more of a day of honor than a day to celebrate,” wrote student Sophia Garcia. “Thanks to those who served, we are a free county.”

Back home

When the vets spoke to the kids, they talked about where they served and what they did. They ribbed one another with service branch jibes and a few insider jokes. Only a couple of the vets donned uniforms for the assembly, which emphasized their assertions that vets are ordinary people called upon to offer extraordinary service.

“My grandfather fought in the Vietnam War. He was a member of the navy. Every time I see him I feel grateful for what he and other people do for our country. If it were not for people like him, we wouldn’t be here,” wrote student Jack Packer. “Veterans Day means being grateful that people are willing to sacrifice their lives for other people.”

During the presentation, Ellsworth shared a video produced by Project Greenlight that noted “Veterans are all around us.”

“It’s hard to show veterans the appreciation they deserve,” said Ellsworth. “Like the video says, when they come back home and are out of uniform, they are more camouflaged than ever.”

He urged students to participate in the Project Greenlight support mission by placing a green bulb in an outdoor light. Ellsworth noted a local resident had donated 50 green light bulbs to the school and offered free supplies to students who wanted to join Project Greenlight. “This way, vets can see this and they can see you care.”

Judging by the rapt audience at the all school assembly, combined with the words from the student essays, the kids at Red Hill understand they owe a huge debt of gratitude to this nation’s veterans.

“People are willing to leave their families and fight for peace, just for us. There is even a chance that they won’t come back, but they still serve their country,” Packer said. “They fight because they love this beautiful country so it is very important that we all celebrate Veterans Day.”

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