Honoring Sacrifice of our Nation’s Veterans
In conjunction with Memorial Day, the students and staff of Old Turnpike School in Tewksbury, NJ have planned a day-long celebration to honor the men and women of the Armed Services. The event will begin at 8am with an opening ceremony and conclude at 2:30pm with a closing ceremony. Throughout the day, students and staff will hear first-hand accounts of your experiences.
Plans are moving forward as the celebration date, May 22, 2015, quickly approaches. In order to bring awareness to the sacrifices our service men and women make, Remembrance Day was created to bridge the gap of understanding while connecting in a patriotic manner. While an eighth grade teacher, I created Remembrance Day and ran the program on three occasions: 1999, 2002, 2005. At the height of the event, 75 Veterans attended with a myriad of activity during the day. With that said, my students have expanded the program to include Operation Shoebox, The Wounded Warriors Project, and “Thank You For Your Service Campaign” where students hand a Veteran a band that they wear on their wrist. The following narrative will lay out the program/event in order to bring clarity to the immense scope of the day; it will be broken down into three parts:
Opening Ceremonies: We will kick off the event in the Gym. All attendees will have a seat of honor amidst the band, chorus, Remembrance Wall, and the student body (approx. 400). The band has been working hard too on a few selections, and the chorus has equally prepared a variety of patriot songs. Also, students have prepared short speeches on the meaning of Memorial Day, Operation Shoebox, and Wounded Warriors Project to name a few. Additionally, each grade, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth, will prepare a Remembrance Wall which will include patriotic symbols while incorporating a letter of thanks from every student in the school. In the past, a color guard has attended; however, at this point, one has not been secured.
Classroom Visitation: This is the most important part of the program. In small groups (15), the students will have an opportunity to move from classroom to classroom to visit with a variety of Veterans. There will be approximately six sessions, each session will last 30 minutes. Note: If there are a large number of Veterans, the number of classes you present to will lessen. Within these sessions, the Veterans can share their experiences. In the past, groups of Veterans have presented together while others have done individual presentations. Each Veteran will have a student chaperone to attend to their needs throughout the day, for example, introduce you to the students, be a guide, provide water and food to name a few. During the Classroom Visitation periods, the MTA (Military Transport Association) will have vehicles on site for the students to view. At this point, I have confirmation of one vehicle with the hopes more will RSVP as we get closer to the event. In addition, during past three programs, a helicopter from Picatinny Arsenal has landed on site. My hope is we will be able to secure the helicopter again this year; however, it has been difficult.
Closing Ceremonies: The program will conclude around the flagpole in front of the school. The Veterans will, again, have a seat of honor. After a few short speeches, the boy scouts will lower the Flag and fold it properly. Then, they will hand it to the Veteran who will lay it to rest in a cauldron of fire with a Nine Gun Salute. Taps will then be played. If a helicopter is secured for the event, there will be a “fly over”.
My students have create various social media sites. They are as follows:
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