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Children learn about veterans

November 10, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

Children learn about veterans



Holding small U.S. flags they had been given moments before, almost 100 fourth-grade students at Bester Elementary School put hands on their hearts Friday and said the Pledge of Allegiance together in front of the school flag.

They then filed into a room inside the school to learn about veterans and flags on the day before Veterans Day.

It was all part of an event organized by the AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary.

While similar programs have been done at smaller schools, this was the first time it was done at a larger school such as Bester, said Auxiliary President Doris Houser.

"The children need to know what a veteran is," she said.

The students seemed particularly captivated by Alvin Jones of Smithsburg, a retired sergeant. It was the first time he had spoken at such an event in Washington County, he said.

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"What is a veteran?" began Jones, 81, a career soldier.

When Jones asked how many students knew a veteran, at least half raised their hands to say they knew someone who served in the military in times of peace or war.

Veterans learn different skills as part of their work, he told the students. For example, because of his time overseas he can answer questions in other languages, which he demonstrated.

"Veterans learn to be disciplined to do what you have to do and do it all the time," he said.

It's hard to sum up a lifelong career in the military in 10 minutes, he later said.

It is good that kids are getting to know veterans since WWII vets are dying at a rapid rate, said Jones, who is a member of the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans.

For a contest, students were asked to draw pictures of the U.S. flag and say what it means.

The first-place winner was Brittany Locklear, who won a $100 savings bond. In second place was Courtney Jones, who won $75; in third place was Diane Escobar; and in fourth place was Rachel Loudin. Escobar and Loudin won $50 each.

"Whoa!" some of the students exclaimed as the winning posters were held up by the students who created them.

As students filed out after the speeches, still holding their new flags, some stopped to stare in awe at Jones' medals.

"I was very impressed. The students did a good job," said Principal Drenna Reineck, who attended the event.

Earlier, as part of morning announcements broadcast school-wide, Reineck asked students if they knew what a veteran was. She asked them to try to find out by talking to other students.

After Jones' speech, finding out the answer was much easier.

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