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Leonard school pays tribute to, learns from veterans

Leonard student Kevin Stephens gets to know U.S. Navy veteran Wes Klein. Photo by Andrew Moser. (click for larger version)
November 16, 2011 - Fifth-graders at Leonard Elementary took time off from their regular morning routine on Friday, Nov. 11 to honor and say thank you to local veterans for serving the United States.

"Today, we are honored, especially since today is Veterans Day...and we are very proud to have the veterans come to our school on this important day," Leonard Principal Paul McDevitt said.

"We are very excited that you are here today to help our kids, educate them, talk to them in person, so they can learn a lot of your wonderful experiences," he added.

Each student spent approximately 40 minutes interviewing a veteran from either the Army, Navy, Air Force, United States Coast Guard, Marines and Young Marines, learning a little more about their experiences during their tour of duty.

During the interviews, each student also served each veteran breakfast, which consisted of bagels, muffins and fruit.

Following the interview session, the Leonard Elementary Student Council led the Pledge of Alligence before McDevitt had four fifth-graders share their Veteran's Day thoughts.

"Veterans Day is to honor everyone who served in the military, not just those who served in the Army and Navy," Keira Houston said. "Veterans are heroes, and not just for America. They are the superheroes of the world."

"Veterans all over the US have done a lot of hard work with their lives," Kevin Stephens told the audience. "Veterans are role models for all of America...thank you for serving in the military and I am very grateful you protected our country."

Micah Rolling said she was proud of how brave veterans are.

"I am proud of veterans because they sacrafice their very own lives for me to have a fun one," she said. "Veterans are special people who have done special things for us Americans and our whole country too."

"Without you, we would not be close to where we are today as a county" Josie Hoffman said during her speech.

When the students finished, McDevitt acknowledged all the veterans in attendance.

"I can't imagine what it feels like for our veterans and young marines to be in this room in the company of each other," McDevitt said. "We are honored as educators and students to have you here today, but the special closeness and knit comradare that you must feel as you all know what it feels like to serve your country in different times, different eras, different conflicts, different wars. The feeling must be pretty mutual among all of you in this room that have served so that we can perserve the way of life that we have here and our children can grow up with that same luxery of life that we enjoyed here in this country for a long time."

"It is always an honor for me to just walk around and see the excitement in the children's faces as they look at the globe and see the different areas and think that they are trying to imagine in their head as you describe to them some of your experiences what that must be like," McDevitt added.

Finally, the group traveled outside to dedicate the school's new flagpole and American flag, which was installed during the summer renovations.

According to McDevitt, the flagpole and flag were dedicated to all the men and women from the Oxford and Addison areas who served in the armed forces.

Addison Twp. Supervisor Bruce Pearson

"On behalf of Addison Twp., we owe these veterans a debt of gratitude for all they have done. Our children must know our history of why we are free, and have to understand that freedom doesn't come cheaply, it is very expensive," Pearson said.

"Thank you, thank you for everything you have done. My son Cody and I say thank you very much," he added.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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