Patriotism proudly paraded the hallways of Lakota’s Heritage Elementary on Friday as military veterans were honored by students.
The long-standing tradition at the Liberty Twp. school is one of the more emotional and popular events each school year, said school officials.
“We feel it’s very important for us to honor our veterans and thank them for their service,” said Missy Alexander, principal of Heritage Elementary. “It’s a pretty emotional event. It always brings a tear to my eyes and many other eyes.”
In the last decade such ceremonies at Butler County and other area elementary schools have grown increasingly popular.
School officials often showcase the veterans — many of whom come dressed in military uniform — and tie in their appearance with instructional lessons on American history or American government.
Friday morning’s events included a school-wide singing of the national anthem and reciting of America’s pledge of allegiance.
The emotions of ceremonies are mutually felt, said Warren Rayburn, Sgt. 1st Class U.S. Army Reserves, who was in uniform as he walked with his daughter through a tunnel of her flag-waving classmates.
“It’s a really good thing to celebrate the veterans and I think it’s a good thing for the veterans to feel the community supports them,” the Liberty Twp. resident said.
“I know in a lot of places we (veterans) don’t get that kind of support, so it’s nice to live in an area where you do get that and it means a lot. And the kids seem very excited about it because it’s a chance for them to see and deal with veterans in and around their community,” Rayburn said.
“Less than 1 percent of all people have served in the military, so some of these kids may not know anybody who has ever served in the military and so it’s a chance to be around those folks and get a comfort level,” he said.
One of the many appreciative students was Bronson Holland.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” the sixth-grader said. “I think it means to my classmates that this is a day we can celebrate the veterans from different branches of the military that have served our country and protected us.”