By Sharilyn Wells/ParaglideMay 28, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Gordon Elementary School in Linden Oaks housing area celebrated their American pride by having a fun-filled day of learning and activities called Patriot Day, Friday. The event was a combined effort of military and civilian volunteers in which age appropriate classes and demonstrations informed students of safety and their surrounding environment.
Among the numerous volunteers, the 42nd Military Police Detachment demonstrated techniques used with their military working dogs. Staff Sgts. Chris Thomas, Mark Crawford, and Darrell Wade used humor and expertise to answer the many questions of the students. When asked how a military working dog retires, Wade quickly responded, "He slides his paperwork across my desk and signs it with a paw print."
According to Andrew Oviedo, 6, the military working dog demonstration was the best part of the day stating, "I liked when the dogs jumped on (Thomas)."
Retired Maj. Kevin Knapp brought his personal Army hot air balloon that was used to kick off the event by lifting the American flag over the students heads for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Womack Army Medical Center also gave a short tour through one of their ambulances and students got the chance to check out Fort Bragg's Fire Department's fire truck and climb inside to get the feel of being a fireman.
Soldiers from Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, gave an up close and personal look at the artillery weapon system, the howitzer and explained how the weapon is used.
Master Officer, D.T. Banholzer from North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission explained water safety and the importance of properly wearing a life vest to the students. The former Marine, said he was impressed how enthusiastic the students were about learning.
"I always enjoy speaking to military kids because they're so disciplined," Banholzer said. "They're a good group of kids."
Activities were both outside and inside. Some of the indoor activities included getting an inside look of a beehive and learning about earthworms. Jake the Snake made an appearance along with different birds of prey.
"The big snake was my favorite," said kindergartner, Victoria Seivers, 6. "He was so big and was soft because he was getting new skin."
"The hot air balloon was my favorite," said third grader, Abi Wilson, 9. "This was a good day; a lot of fun."
Students made their own bird houses and bee hives and even got a special treat from Cynthia Martinez, a McDonald's representative, that included coloring books, stickers and Happy Meal toys.
Other volunteers included N.C. Department of Transportation, Sandhills Utility, Master Gardeners, Air Quality Control, Harnett County Sheriffs Department, Up and Coming Magazine, the band Fayetteville Rollers, and many more.
McDonalds, Cici's Pizza, Sam's Club and Picerne all donated food and drinks for the event.