By Sgt. 1st Class Lori A. Kuczmanski, Fort BlissDecember 2, 2008
FORT BLISS, Texas--Waving flags and wearing hats made purposely for Veterans Day, students from Collins Elementary School marched into the courtyard to celebrate Veterans Day Nov. 11. The color guard brought in the American flag and the students stood at attention with their hand on their heart as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance, then the pledge of allegiance to the Texas state flag.
After, students and visitors sang the national anthem while they waved their flags and looked at Soldiers and retired members of the Armed Forces in the audience.
Lt. Col. Christopher McElveen, 1st Battalion 360th Regiment Infantry "Warhawg" Commander, is actively involved in the Partnership in Education Program with Collins Elementary School. The program is a joint effort to support the school and the children in educating them and building a good quality working relationship within the local community to facilitate the education of young children.
McElveen spoke to the students about the significance of Veterans Day and how we need to bear in mind what the special day means to each of us.
"I also want to encourage all of you to take the time to thank a Veteran for their service. To further express your gratitude, you can draw a picture about veterans, make a simple thank you card, visit a local VA Medical Center, or even our local military hospital to say thank you, post pictures with names of your family members who are serving in the Armed Forces, send care packages to those who are serving, or simply just say thanks for your service to a Veteran," said McElveen.
Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'" As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.
In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress - at the urging of the veterans service organizations - amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Veterans Day honors all American Veterans, both living and dead and is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime.
Children invited members of their family who are in the Armed Forces or retired from the military to join them in celebrating Veterans Day at the school. The family member was called up with the respective child and the family member was given a certificate thanking them for their service in the military.
Larry Olsen, Guidance Counselor at Collins Elementary school, said the school has had a Veterans Day ceremony all five years he's been at the school.
"We've been doing it as long as I can remember, as long as I've been here, and Collins is a patriotic school so we wanted to honor the veterans," said Olsen.
Teachers prepared students for Veterans Day by helping them make hats for the ceremony, and they got flags, and "they kind of riled them up and talked to them, announced it, sent out fliers," said Olsen.
Olsen honorably expressed, "My father is a retired lieutenant colonel. Veteran, so it's very close to home and it touches my heart because my dad was a veteran and all the veterans are heroes for serving."
"We must never forget to pause, reflect, and thank our veterans for their daily sacrifices that they make to ensure our rights to enjoy freedom, adhere to our personal way of life, and support our country's founding fathers vision that liberty, freedom, and justice are for all," said McElveen.