School children of all ages celebrated Veterans Day around Madison County on Monday, paying tribute to the brave men and women who risked their lives to protect America as well as those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
The Ennis High School choir sings the national anthem during the Veterans Day program Monday afternoon in the elementary school gym. Photo by Ben Coulter.
In Sheridan, the junior English class hosted the annual Veterans Day Tea to show their debt of gratitude to United States military veterans. Students greeted members of the community as they shuffled up the front steps of the elementary school and out of the cold while their classmates offered warm coffee and smiles along with baked goods to those in attendance.
Retired Sheridan teacher Jim Lane began the school tradition of paying tribute to Ruby Valley veterans’ years ago with his fourth-grade students.
“The first thing we did is we went down and put up a sign for them. And we thought ‘Well, that’s not enough,’” said Lane. “So we came up with this idea of having a tea for them to come up and let the little kids see them and talk to them.”
“Now it’s progressed, and it’s really a good deal,” Lane continued. “It’s important for them, too, to be able to come in and talk to the kids and know that they are respected.”
In addition to hot coffee the veterans in Sheridan were treated to a musical performance by the kindergarten class, a reading the St. Crispin’s Day Speech, an excerpt from Shakespeare’s King Henry V, by Sally Schendel’s English class and a history of the Pledge of Allegiance from retired Army Paratrooper and World War II veteran Al Fox.
Senior Elle Wood reflected on the importance of celebrating Veterans Day as she greeted people on the front steps.
“It’s kind of a way to grow the relationship between the younger students and the elders in town,” she said. “They risked their lives for us, and today you see more and more stuff done with the troops, but it’s not necessarily for the veterans. The troops serving now, you’re always thanking them, but these guys risked their lives and helped us out too, so we should thank them as well.”
In Ennis, the students ended the day early on Monday with an assembly to recognize veterans. Kindergarten students sang “Yankee Doodle” and elementary kids sang “If You Love Your Country, Thank A Vet” before high school history and P.E. teacher and 20-year United States Marine Corps veteran Jay Fredrickson took center stage to read a message from US Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos celebrating the 237th birthday of the Marines.
Fredrickson also took a moment to reflect on what Veterans Day means to him.
“Veterans day, to me is a remembrance,” said Fredrickson. “It’s about the obligations that I stood for as a Marine, and the obligations that I still stand for today as a retired Marine, and that is faithfulness, honesty, integrity, a sense of never, ever quitting. We have held a strong tradition of defending our nation regardless of what our mission was.”