“My usual philosophy follows that Hope Is Not An Option. I was invited by my grandson to attend the 4th grade presentation for Veterans Day. I was not expecting much. I figured some folks would show up who had their child in the class. The kids would sing some songs, say some words and do the ‘Thank You’ thing. The important part was that I was there for my grandson. I was wrong.
My daughter and I got to school early. My daughter picked out the seats and we positioned ourselves Front Row Center. The gym was setup with chairs covering the entire basketball court. There were over 65 reserved seats for veterans. The stage covered the entire back court wall and was lined with stepped bleachers. Flags were positioned on the left side of the court. An honor guard from Fort Benning, led by a Lt Col was warming up in the wings replete with M4 rifles and Battle Dress Uniforms. The school set up a welcoming refreshment center for the Vets. People trickled in and I thought there would be a lot of empty chairs. The Honor Guard kept practicing in the wings and people trickled in slowly–until about 5 minutes before program execution. Then folks appeared, the doorways were jammed, the Vet seats filled, people were standing along the walls and the gym was filled with what appeared to be the entire county population. We waited. the principal stepped to the microphone and welcomed the guests, explaining the show was running a little late because the class was still getting ready. The general consensus from the audience was–no problem.
The 4th graders entered the gym from the back doors. Two columns split walking along the east and west walls making their way toward the the stage. They reached their objective and moved in formation to their appointed positions. The students wore either red, white, or blue t-shirts evenly distributed, so when they were in position they presented the national colors. They appeared ready. The show began.
The class went through US history from the Boston Tea Party to the present day. They sang the songs of patriotism, defined historical actions, recited the pledge of allegiance, the Constitution and sang the Star Spangled Banner. They spoke of God, trust, patriotism, liberty and what it means to be a veteran. They personally presented a flag to every veteran in the audience and they thanked them for their service. They performed for over an hour of continuously coordinated presentations. The guest speaker, the LTC Commander of the Honor Guard, focused on the children. Their education, knowledge, energy, and potential to be the leaders of this country. He commended them on their performance. The audience gave a standing ovation to the 4th grade class.
What I thought would be a mundane school event turned out to be an enlightening experience. Those kids made my day. They did their best, overcame great obstacles, confronted their fears, and completed their mission with honor. So, I still am of a notion that when confronted with a problem, “Hope Is Not An Option”, however there is Hope in the form of the potential of those 4th graders and all those like them for this country.”
Ranger Sam Schiro, Guest Contributor
This brought back 1959 memories of fourth grade in Public School 30 on Staten Island, NY. Every Wednesday the girls each wore a blue skirt, white blouse, and red scarf. The boys each wore blue pants, a white shirt, and red tie.
We’d line up in the gym outside a real auditorium and then march in to a medley of patriotic music played on the grand piano by the music teacher. We’d salute the flag, sing the Star Spangled Banner and then sit for the weekly program.
We learned the words to all the verses of My Country ‘Tis of Thee, America the Beautiful, This Land is Your Land and many others.
It breaks my heart that my grandchildren have not been taught those songs in school. We’re losing our common knowledge of hymns of all kinds–including these hymns of patriotism.
Good to have this example that there is hope for our future!
This is a great story! Thanks