Oakwood-Windsor Elementary students celebrate veterans at patriotic program
WINDSOR — Students at Oakwood-Windsor Elementary School saluted military veterans Friday morning, thanking them for their service and celebrating the freedoms – speech, religion, the right to vote - their sacrifices guarantee all Americans.
Veterans from the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy filled the front rows in the school cafeteria surrounded by children who sang patriotic songs and read tributes and poems during the annual Veterans Day program.
Landon Furdyna and Esteban Rubio led the audience in a moment of silence, and Micah McNamee played “Taps” in solemn memory of the veterans’ fallen brothers and sisters.
The students also honored three of their own. Faculty members Ronald Middleton, art; David Cooper, special education; and George Weber, fifth-grade science and social studies, are all veterans and proudly stood as their service song played during an armed forces medley.
For Principal Lynne Shrader, Veterans Day, which is Sunday, means family. Her late husband, John, was in the U.S. Army for 13 years.
“His service meant a lot to me,” Shrader said after the program. “It was special for me to be an Army wife. Those years were some of the best years of our lives together.”
Shrader’s father, Arthur Fay, served in the U.S. Navy as a plane mechanic on an aircraft carrier during World War II. Her father-in-law, Joseph Shrader, joined the U.S. Coast Guard right after World War II and retired as an admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.
“This program is near and dear to my heart,” Shrader said. “We have very close ties to the military.”
Shrader said it’s important for the students to understand what those members of her family and all veterans have done for them.
“They need to understand the sacrifices that others have made for them so they appreciate what they have,” she said. “We do this every year, and we’ll continue to do this every year. And I hope it continues to grow and grow and grow and so we can honor more veterans every year.”
Nikki Clingerman, a former staff sergeant in the Marines who attended the program, agreed.
“The program was outstanding,” said Clingerman, who served 10 years. “It’s so nice to have young people realizing how important Veterans Day is. Maybe it can plant seeds that will grow, and they might consider serving our country with pride in a positive way.”
Her husband, Manny Clingerman, retired from the U.S. Marines after 23 years. He said the recognition from the students Friday was not just for him and his wife but for all veterans.
“People don’t realize how important it is to take the short amount of time to recognize veterans,” he said. “We don’t walk around expecting it from anybody, but when it happens, it’s so appreciated. It takes us back to the time we served and to all the people we served with.
“When we’re here, we bring all of those people with us. It’s not only our own personal service but also a recognition of them and also veterans across the country and everything they have done. It’s really great to be here.”
Guest speaker S.C. Sen. Tom Young, R-Aiken, told the students they need to thank veterans not only on Veterans Day but everyday, asking all veterans to stand to loud applause.
“Every one of these folks have sacrificed so that we – everybody in this room – can have the freedoms we talked about today,” Young said. “When you go home this weekend, I want you to remember that we need to thank the veterans today and tomorrow and on Sunday, but we need to thank our veterans every day because the freedoms we have every day – 365 days of the year – because of these folks who have sacrificed for each one of us.”
Young gave Shrader a new South Carolina flag that flew over the Statehouse in Columbia.
Veterans Day this year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I in Europe at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918, and the 80th anniversary of the first official Veterans Day, Young said.
Because Nov. 11 is on Sunday this year, Veterans Day will be observed Monday.