Serving lunch to those who serve our country

By Jamie A. Hunt

Smiling students welcomed guests to Rocky Hill Elementary School's Veteran's Day Luncheon and handed out printed programs of festivities that gave a hint of what to expect.

The air was full of excitement and expectation and as the celebration and patriotic music commenced it was extremely touching and uplifting to be surrounded by the large number of veterans with their friends and families; pride in who we are as Americans and our country was felt and expressed by all.

The luncheon and festivities, completely planned by the student council under the direction of Loretta Bryant, Doug Snider, Janie Macaulay, was dedicated to Rudy Gamboa, who has been extremely ill, and all the brave veterans who have served and are serving our country at this time.

The program began with a welcome recited by four students on stage, the salute to the flag, and the Star Spangled Banner sung by another four students. Then a moment of silence at 11:11 to honor soldier's that lost their lives.

Sandra Carr, a veteran who served in the Air Force, Air Force Reserves, and Air National Guard, said, &#8220This is an extra special time for us.” Carr was with her daughter Joanna Woodyatt, an Army veteran, who served in Haiti, and her granddaughter, Emily. &#8220It's absolutely wonderful that Rocky Hill School does this type of program for the kids, it's so often that kids don't know enough about our country.”

Surrounded by friends and family, on this special day, Carr wonders about all of the unknown veterans in the area that don't know about the American Legion Post in Exeter and would like to offer help and services. Sandra Carr is a past Commander of the American Legion in Exeter. For more information contact Sandra Carr at (559) 592-4069 or Jack Allwart at (559) 592-5334, or any Legion member.

Jessica Bradshaw, principal of Rocky Hill, walked through the auditorium and personally greeted many of the veterans and their families. Bradshaw told of the huge effort by the student council to plan this wonderful gathering and said with much emotion, &#8220We can't honor these veterans enough, they've given so much to us.”

Doug Snider, a veteran of Viet Nam and teacher said, &#8220It's kind of impressive to see all the common interest between the kids and the veterans.” Snider's fifth grade class read the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States on stage. &#8220All of the military is represented today here at the Rocky Hill School Luncheon,&#8220 said Snider.

Juan R. Soria, a veteran of the Army, came to have lunch with his neighbor Shaney Hernandez. &#8220This is my second time here at the Veteran's Day Luncheon and I really enjoy it.” Soria was 9 years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed and World War II began for America, and spent 24 years in the Army, serving in Korea and Viet Nam. &#8220This is a lot of hard work for these kids; they have been really practicing. They are really very good. The teachers deserve a lot of praise,” said Platoon Sergeant Soria.

Tammy Ward Crisswell, a veteran from 193 Army infantry & Ordinance brigade and backup to the engineers, served in Panama from 1985-1987. When asked about veterans day and this celebration, Crisswell said, &#8220Veteran's Day means a lot to me; reflecting on my service and all the lives that have been lost in the service of our country.”

Patty Hylton, a third grade teacher, whose students sang &#8220America the Beautiful,'

had both her parents at the celebration, thanked Loretta Bryant, one of the celebration organizers; &#8220Thank you for all your hard work putting on the Veterans Day celebration.  It was so very special. My dads heart was both encouraged by the children he saw and deeply touched. He said he almost cried.”

The Veterans really appreciate that we remember them,” said Loretta Bryant, fifth grade teacher whose students sang &#8220Choices,” a song expressing our American right to free choice. &#8220The kids love to perform!,” Bryant summed up many thoughts and feelings shared by many veterans and non-veterans at the gathering; &#8220I'm so glad that there are schools in this country that still teach patriotism.”

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