Students Listen to Stories from Those Who Have Served, Present Certificates
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Schools have the day off Veterans Day, but Division Street Elementary School students invited United States military veterans to their campus to honor them a few days early.
Second grade students invited around a dozen local veterans to a ceremony at the school Friday, Nov. 7. The students listened curiously to the stories and experiences several veterans shared with them.
“I am an Army medic. I work in a hospital, I help run the hospital and I can drive around in an ambulance,” explained Sgt. Esther Rodriguez. “I want to let everyone know that whether it be the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard, there are a lot of different jobs for soldiers and sailors that anyone can do.”
From land to sea, Senior Chief Petty Officer Aaron Dunk shared stories from his 15-year career in the U.S. Navy and his work with aircraft carriers.
“They’re giant ships, probably bigger than your school,” said Dunk to the group of students. “On that ship you have about 6,000 people; it’s like a small city that floats on the water. We have a Post Office, stores, everything we need so we can live out at sea for six months, eight months, or nine months at a time. We travel all over the world; I’ve been to Australia, Hawaii, China, Korea, Italy, Spain, [and] Portugal.”
The students were taught the proper way to execute a hand salute, led by Vietnam veteran, Jim Hartman. The second graders practiced raising their right hand so the tip of their forefinger touched the outer edge of their right eyebrow, which is sometimes easier said than done for most 7 and 8-year-olds.
Regardless, it’s the thought and effort that counts and Hartman said it was a fun activity. Hartman also explained the history and significance surrounding Veterans Day.
“I find that a lot of these kids hear these stories and they’ll go home and ask their parents if any of their relatives served in the military and the parents will say yes,” said Hartman. “I think it’s something like four out of every five have had a family member serve in war. It’s a step forward; I always enjoy spending time with the kids.”
"We really wanted students to connect with local veterans, hear their stories and learn something new that they maybe don't learn in their everyday curriculum," said Christine Delaney, second grade teacher at Division Street. "We like to reach out to the community and get the kids involved. The students made these awards special for each of the veterans, so every [award] is different. They worked on them for weeks; it was really fun."