By Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sus. Bde., 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsJanuary 25, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - "It reminds me of my daddy because he's been gone for a long, long, long time," the little girl said in a small voice while looking off into the distance.
That girl, Zoie Berzett, 8, a 2nd grade student at Clarke Elementary School, attended a flag presentation ceremony by Soldiers of the with her classmates here Jan. 23.
Soldiers of the 15th "Wrangler" Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers flew the flag Oct. 1, 2007, over Camp Taji, Iraq with the intent to give it to the school as a symbol of gratitude for the children's letters to the troops during deployment, explained Lt. Col. Victoriano Garcia, the battalion's commander.
"To me, it represents the bonds we have established with the school," Garcia said of the flag presentation to his unit's adopted school.
The Soldiers also wanted the chance to show the children what they were doing overseas. Clarke's 2nd graders gathered in the school's cafeteria to watch Maj. David Dinkelman, operations officer for the 15th STB, give a slideshow presentation.
"We tried to show them what we did in Iraq," Dinkelman said. "It's not as big and scary a place as the news makes it seem."
After the presentation, Nabil Diab, the school's principal, accepted the folded, glass-encased flag from Garcia on behalf of the school.
Diab said the flag had a personal meaning to him. He fled his homeland of Lebanon in 1979 during the Lebanese Civil War, which resulted in the suspension of many freedoms and rights for the duration of the war.
"I know the joy of democracy because I know what it's like to loose that," Diab said. "It is an honor to have a flag that was flown in a mission that represents democracy."
The adults weren't the only ones that the flag evoked emotion from. Drake Pepper, one of the 2nd graders in the audience, said that the flag reminded him of the pride he had for his dad.
"He helps two countries, our country and Iraq," Pepper said.
"When I see a flag I know that he's there, fighting for our country," another 2nd grade student, Katie Handley, said about her father in Iraq.
The flag which once flew over Iraq as a quiet reminder of what the Soldiers fought for will now be prominently displayed in the halls of Clarke Elementary School, as a reminder to the children of the importance of what their mothers and fathers do.