In honor of Veteran’s Day, Mispllion Elementary School hosted “Take a Vet to School Day” in conjunction with the History Channel on Monday, November 10. Students were encouraged to invite family or friends they knew had served in the Armed Forces to school for a presentation and reception in the school cafeteria.
Kaden Davis, a student at the school, acted as the Master of Ceremonies, introducing other students who performed musical numbers including “America the Beautiful,” the “Star Spangled Banner,” and “Proud to Be an American.” Thomas Hermansader, also a student at Mispillion Elementary, led the audience in the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
“I am honored to welcome those who have served our country and honored guests to the Second Annual Take A Vet to School Day,” said Susan Donahue, Principal of Mispillion Elementary. “It is important for students to realize that heroes do not always wear capes and they do not always have super powers. The men and women of the Armed Forces are heroes who fight for the freedom we enjoy every day. I want students to listen carefully to the words of the songs we sing today and to the words of our guest speaker in order to remember how lucky we are to have the freedoms we do today.”
Alyssa Boyer, a teacher and Army veteran whose husband still serves in the Armed Forces, introduced the guest speaker, retired Brigadier General Scott E. Chambers. Ms. Boyer’s husband served under General Chambers while serving in Iraq in the 265th Brigade. The unit successfully completed all missions and all members of the unit returned safely.
“I am a better person for having served in the military,” General Chambers explained. “It is me who thanks the military every day for making me who I am today. I signed up right after high school as a private and rose through the ranks to Brigadier General by doing the things I needed to do in order to succeed. I had over 1,600 people who depended on me to make the right decisions when we were in Iraq, and I won’t deny it was scary, but I would not change a thing about my service and am proud to have served with those men and women.”
General Chambers reminded those in attendance that when they want to complain about the youth of today, they should remember that the United States has fought a ten-year war on the backs of those young people. He said there were men and women in uniform today who barely remembered 9/11, but they were fighting for the freedoms many of us take for granted.
After the ceremony, students and guests were invited to a reception in the school cafeteria, where students were able to get autographs from the veterans and to ask them questions. Presley Deskiewicz brought two veterans to the program at the school. Preston’s great-uncle, Stephen Sloboda Jr. served as a Seargent in the United States Air Force in Vietnam. His great-aunt, Valerie Sloboda-Mague, served as a First Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps during Vietnam.
“I invited them because they served our country,” Preston said. “They refueled planes and helped people. Mostly, though, they gave me the freedom I have today.” Preston says his grandmother taught him that there was a purpose to Veteran’s Day and that it was more than just a day off of school. He said that he has always known how important it was that his great-aunt and uncle served in the Armed Forces and that he was very proud of them.
Take A Veteran to School Day is a national program developed by the History Channel to link veterans with students throughout the country. The program, which began in 2007, provides schools with a way to learn more about the history of Veterans Day and the experiences of veterans from all backgrounds. Students at Mispllion Elementary who invited veterans to the program received a t-shirt and were given the opportunity to sit with the veterans during the program. The school incorporated information about Veteran’s Day into the curriculum and offered information provided by the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress.