Veterans Day is a time where the country honors those who have served in the military, and Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School commemorated them Friday morning during a special ceremony.
Each year the school hosts the event the Friday before Veterans Day, inviting veterans in the area to be honored during the ceremony.
Students and visitors ventured to the back of the school for a brief pep assembly, where students who have family members serving in the military were able to honor their bravery and courage.
Authentic military uniforms from World War I and II, Desert Storm and Vietnam hang from the walls, which were all donated by veterans in the area.
Students approached the podium saying each name of their family members who served and are currently serving in the military.
Ed Desmond, U.S. Air Force veteran, spoke to the 600 students who attended the assembly about the importance of serving in the military, and how it can be beneficial in their lives.
When Desmond was done, students broke out in song honoring the veterans. Second-graders sang, “Grand Old Flag,” and fourth-graders sang, “Take a Moment to Thank a Veteran.”
“Although we aren’t all veterans, we are all Americans,” said Colina principal Kelley Brunner.
Kindergartners also joined in on the fun by singing, “This is Our Flag,” and at the end of the assembly the entire student body sang, “Thank you Soldiers,” which received a standing ovation.
Veterans weren’t the only ones honored during the assembly.
Colina also celebrated its beloved school secretary, Sandy Hughes, birthday.
Patrick Helfrich, U.S. Navy veteran, has attended the ceremony at Colina for many years, dating back to when his daughter used to attend the school.
“This school has always supported veterans… and it really shows in the program,” Helfrich said. “It’s a real tribute to the Kyrene School District.”
Now that his granddaughters are Colina Coyotes, he continues to keep the tradition alive.
To get the word out about the ceremony, Brunner and her staff send letters out to families and begin their preparations a month in advance, so all veterans have the opportunity to attend.
“Colina has had a long tradition in honoring veterans, and it has been a rich tradition here for many, many years. It’s a time for us to just come together as proud Americans and we invite all veterans in the community and veterans who are related to our children to come and be honored,” Brunner said. “We do this every year the Friday before Veterans Day.”
“We’ve had veterans that have traveled out of state to come to this ceremony,” she said. “It’s one way we can truly come together as a country and talk about these veterans, whether they are retired or currently serving, have helped us to establish our freedoms.”
Brunner was getting a bit emotional during the assembly, due to the fact that her son, Sean Beutner, recently enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, leaving two weeks ago for boot camp.
She’s extremely proud of her son’s decision to serve his country, and believes she has raised an individual with a good head on his shoulders.
“It’s not a journey I thought he would take… When he told me that he wanted to be a Marine I thought that I have done a good job raising a young man that truly understands what it means to be an American because he wants to serve and protect the freedoms we have.”
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