by Jan Dixon
Special to The Leaven
LENEXA — Veterans Day is an opportunity to honor and thank those who have or are serving in the military. Sandwiched between Halloween and Thanksgiving, the day can often go unnoticed by kids.
But not at Holy Trinity School in Lenexa, where fourth- and fifth-grade students worked to prepare a special Veterans Day event to show their respect and appreciation for those who have served our country.
In an interview before the event, students were excited about the music for their Nov. 9 concert.
“Our goal is to sing songs that will make the veterans feel appreciated,” explained Ava Wickenhauser.
The classes learned all of the lyrics to the official songs for the different branches of the military.
Holy Trinity families and teachers sent in pictures and military information about the veterans in their families. The principal’s grandfather, the music teacher’s father-in-law and the computer teacher’s dad were just a few of the uniformed veterans to be honored in a slideshow at the concert.
After discussions in class and with their parents, the students learned that veterans are everywhere, and they wanted to include more than just their families and their Catholic community in the celebration.
“We have a VFW right down the street, so we were able to reach out to the community,” said music teacher and organizer Andi Fredrickson. “They offered to provide the honor guard for the flag ceremony at the concert.”
Every student wrote a letter of thanks to a veteran; some wrote three or four. After presenting the letters to those attending the concert, the extra letters were to be sent to the VFW.
“We just want all veterans to know that we appreciate them,” said fourth-grader Elle Robinson.
Another token of appreciation came after Halloween, when the students contributed some of their candy to make treat bags for the veterans.
Sharing photographs, writing letters, classroom and family discussions, and learning lyrics prompted the students to consider the duties of a soldier. They all agreed that soldiers have to brave.
“Soldiers serve our country by defending the people in it,” Charlie Heinen explained.
And the sacrifices made by soldiers were also recognized by the students.
“They miss time with their families,” explained Jasmine Luck-Smith.
“They might miss a college graduation or the birth of a baby,” added Allison Mark.
Worst of all, said Mallie Irsik, “they might not even get to come back home.”
Veterans appreciate the efforts of the students and are thankful that the kids have food on their tables, have the right to wear what they want and the right to do what they want.
“It feels good to be recognized,” said Jim Bird, an Army veteran. “And it makes me feel proud to be an American.”
The fourth- and fifth-graders at Holy Trinity School understand that the freedoms Americans enjoy are protected by its veterans. They understand and appreciate the freedom of living in their homes and attending a Catholic school. They are thankful to live in a country where people have civil rights.
In addition to preparing for the concert and sharing their Halloween candy, the students are holding veterans up in prayer as well.
They have attached prayers to little toy soldiers as a remembrance and a thank you.
“We will each take one home and put it somewhere safe,” said Rose Muehlberger. “We will say the prayer every day for a veteran.”
Dominick Adams will be remembering his grandmother who was a nurse and a pilot. And Avery Johnson will be honoring her grandfather who served in the Navy.
Emmanuel Orego, meanwhile, will be thanking his mother’s friend who is in the Air Force. All of the children have made a connection with a veteran and want to honor them.
“All of our activities have helped students learn about veterans,” said Fredrickson. “They will remember and celebrate.”