‘Thanks for Protecting Us’

Students Salute Veterans with Patriotic Ceremonies

Korean War veteran Glen Bailey happily takes five from Lakes first-grader Julia Low

Students learned about sacrifice and service when schools throughout Kent County honored servicemen and women with special ceremonies on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Students saluted veterans with song and poetry, made thank-you cards and hugged parents and grandparents who have served their country.

Sarah Swinehart’s father was in the Army and she followed in his footsteps, for which Pine Island students thanked her

Kent City High School honored veterans at an assembly and dedication of a recently installed monument in front of the high school. On hand were members of the Grand Rapids Veterans of Foreign Wars, including vets from as far back as World War II. The Kent City varsity football team bestowed a $3,400 donation to the VFW, the result of a season-long fundraising effort.

Essay contest winners Katie Schneider-Thomas and Matty Maloney read their writings on “My Responsibility to America.” The essays were judged by former teachers, veterans and community members.

The assembly featured a flag ceremony, a roll call of attending veterans and music from the high school band and choir. Then followed the dedication of a monument reading “Lest we forget,” featuring depictions of military members from various eras of United States history.

Many students, like Makayla Gilbert, dressed in patriotic colors; wore red, white and blue necklaces and carried flags for a Veterans Day assembly at Pine Island Elementary School in Comstock Park

At Comstock Park’s Pine Island Elementary School, students dressed in patriotic colors, carried flags and handed out gift bags with notes for the vets.

At Rockford’s Lakes Elementary, students served donuts to 40 veterans, read a poem and listened to taps played while three veterans raised the flag outside. “Thanks for protecting us!” they called to veterans as they shook their hands after an assembly.

Guests included Rod Austin, a retired Army master sergeant with a Purple Heart whose grandson, Tristan Rogers, is a kindergartner; Korean War veterans Glen Bailey and Jack Denton; and Tracy Davis, an Army veteran of the first Gulf War and mother of first-grader Lola Beimers.

“She was so happy yesterday about all the songs she’s going to sing today,” Davis said before the ceremony. “It’s very important to her.”

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Video of Kent City Veterans Day ceremony

Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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