GREENFIELD — Harris Elementary School in Greenfield was among many schools throughout the county to host Veterans Day programs on Friday.
One by one, the students filed into the school gym to the tune of “Stars and Stripes Forever” to honor those who had served their country.
Many children were decked out in red, white and blue for the occasion. One young boy wore all camouflage while a young girl wore red and white leggings and a red and blue dress covered in stars.
She wanted to wear something patriotic for Veterans Day, she said.
With hands over their hearts, the students in kindergarten through third grade recited the Pledge of Allegiance, then sang the “Star Spangled Banner.”
At one point, a group of kids held up 2-foot-tall letters reading “THANK YOU VETERANS,” as they took turns sharing a reason why they were thankful for them.
“T is for taking time away from your family in order to protect ours,” said one little boy.
“H is for the honor you so richly deserve,” said a young girl.
After all the letters were read, 9-year-old Walter Wiseman stepped up to the podium to recognize each of the veterans in attendance by name — over 25 in all.
The young boy said it was an honor to play a role in Friday’s program by recognizing those who have served in the military, as his great-grandfather served in the Marines.
“I love the people who served our country, and I love our country,” he said.
On behalf of the entire school, school principal Sarah Greulich thanked the veterans for their service.
“Thank you for joining in our special celebration, and thank you for serving on behalf of these special faces here,” she said, referring to the children gathered in the gym.
“Throughout our history American soldiers, sailors… and airmen have bravely answered the call to defend our freedom and to aid our friends and allies. We could never fully repay our debt of gratitude to those who died or those who were wounded, however we can thank those who are still alive today,” she said.
“Today it is our privilege to say thank you to all veterans, to let them know that we appreciate their service and their sacrifice. The price of freedom is high, so today we celebrate American veterans for keeping this nation the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Near the end of the program, the crowd listened as the school’s secretary, Anita Workman, sang a heartfelt rendition of “God Bless the USA.”
Her husband, Bob Workman, Hancock County’s designated veterans services officer, led the Greenfield Honor Guard in presenting the flag at the start of the program.
He later played “Taps” on a bugle as the students held a respectful moment of silence, no small feat among elementary-age kids.
He said it always warms his heart to see children learning about how veterans have served their country, and recognizing — at least to some extent — the sacrifices they’ve made.
“It’s really nice to see the kids actually seeing the veterans and hearing about what they’ve done and the sacrifices they’ve made. It means a lot to veterans when they hear ‘Thank you for your service,’” said Workman, who served in the Marines from 1964-70.
“It’s an honor for us veterans to be here today and to hear the thank yous,” he said.