BELTON, Texas - The United States flag is nationally coveted. Its stars represent each state and the colors each represent something powerful. Red represents valor, white represents innocence and blue stands for justice. On this peaceful day, children chanted "USA" while their tiny flags blew gently in the breeze. For them today, the flag was a symbol of hope, pride and honor.
25 Soldiers and leaders from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, attended Old Glory Day at their Adopt-A-School, Lakewood Elementary, April 18.
An annual event since 1987, Old Glory Day celebrates the symbolism behind the flag and teaches students the meaning of patriotism. It also allows the school, students and community a chance to honor service members, veterans and first responders for what they do for the community and country.
This was fifth grade teacher Taryn Tucker's fifth Old Glory Day, and it holds a special place in her heart.
"We are so close to Fort Hood," Tucker said. "We do this to show patriotism and it's important for kids to see what it means. A lot of the students' parents are in the military so it's very important to us."
Principle Judy Schiller thanked the 13th ESC for the support they continue to show the school.
"We are extremely fortunate and overwhelmed by their contributions that have made a positive impact on the education of our students," Schiller said. "Without your diligence and generosity, the [Adopt-A-School] program would not be such a huge success."
As the Soldiers finished staging their equipment and setting up their Physical Readiness Training demonstration area, the students, faculty and those in attendance welcomed first responders riding in on motorcycles, as well as bike riders from Project Hero's Ride 2 Recovery.
Ride 2 Recovery is a program designed to improve the health and wellness of healing heroes by providing a life changing experience through cycling events.
The Soldiers showed the students one of their High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles and answered questions about it to the delight of the children.
Meanwhile in an adjacent field, Soldiers rotated classes through a push-ups, sit-ups and running stations allowing them to get a glimpse into what the Soldiers do on a daily basis.
13th ESC and III Corps prioritize doing all they can in the community, and events like this help them show their gratitude to everyone.
"We work so closely with the community here and are grateful for the support the school and surrounding community gives the military," said Sgt. 1st Class Juan Giraldo, 13th ESC Civil Affairs Office. "It's an honor for us to be here and help give back to a community that gives so much to us."
HHC, 13th ESC, 1st Sgt. Everell Gustave has participated in Old Glory Day for the second year, and with this year's event over it's something he relishes in having the opportunity to do as long as he's here.
"Being able to come out and support our school is an honor for us," Gustave said. "They are honoring us, but any chance to support our sponsored school is something we take great pleasure in."