WASHINGTON (Nov. 11, 2013) -- "Veterans represent the superheroes of America -- fighting for our liberty, freedom, and justice," Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal told enthusiastic students during his keynote address at the Brookwood Elementary School Veterans Day Assembly in Leawood, Kan.
More than 400 people attended this annual event to recognize the contributions of America's veterans, including more than 50 U.S. military veterans, the entire Brookwood Elementary School student body, community leaders and family members.
"This is always my favorite program of the year and I thank all those in attendance for being here today to recognize our nation's veterans," said Teddi Pendland, Brookwood Elementary School principal, as she began the ceremony by thanking the veterans present and the students for their hard work in preparation for the event.
The program proceeded with the the presentation of the colors and "The Pledge of Allegiance" by Webelos Boy Scout Troop #3197. The Star Spangled Banner was also expertly sung by the Brookwood Choir and Hand Chimes ensemble.
U.S. Marine Corps veteran, retired Sgt. Al Lemieux, addressed the student body and highlighted the importance of America's veterans.
"I'm honored to be a veteran. The time I served with my comrades in the Korea War is very special to me and I'm humbled to have served this nation," Lemieux said.
Following remarks by Lemieux and Westphal, the Brookwood Elementary School choir performed the Armed Forces Medley and once again thanked all veterans in attendance. The entire event was live-streamed via the Shawnee Mission School District's website.
During his visit, Westphal also toured the school and met with 1st and 3rd grade students to reinforce the importance of Veterans Day and the contributions of veterans to American history and their commitment to the defense of the nation.
"Today, when you go up to one of these veterans, I want you to look them in the eye, shake their hand and thank them for their service to our country," Westphal told the students.
Brookwood Elementary School is a public school and part of the Shawnee Mission School District, Shawnee Mission, Kan. The school serves approximately 385 students, in grades kindergarten through 6th grade, and is the home of the "Brookwood Beavers."