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Students honor veterans

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Linderman Elementary School students listened attentively as local veterans and their families shared stories on Veterans’ Day.

“We are here today to honor their courage and dedication, and say thank you for their sacrifices,” organizer and paraprofessional Eileen Evertz told students before asking the veterans in attendance to stand up and be acknowledged.

“Thank you for answering the call to duty,” Evertz continued. “You have made our Armed Forces one of the most respected in the world.”

As students sat cross-legged on the floor of the gym, one 9-year-old abruptly stood to her feet, and motioned for the rest of her classmates to stand in respect and clap as well.

“My great-grandpa was in WWII, and I just wanted to support him,” Maddilyn Huffine explained after the ceremony. “I really care about my relatives and everybody else in the Army and I stood because I love my freedom.”

College student Will Lytton choked up a bit as he encouraged his generation to honor veterans more than they do.

“(Veterans) didn’t fight because they wanted to, they fought because they had to,” he said.

Will’s grandfather was a Merchant Marine who served on the Liberty ship that brought supplies to soldiers stationed in Germany during WWII. Will’s mom Pam Lytton told the children that her father never really talked about what happened during the war. It wasn’t until she and her dad visited the ship 10 years ago while it was docked in a San Francisco harbor that she realized the extent of his sacrifices.

Current marines onboard treated him with utmost respect as he recalled working the rudder of the ship for 24 hours straight during an intense storm, saving the entire crew from shipwreck.

After the ceremony, students invited the veterans to share lunch with them.

The event was the culmination of weeks of veteran-related artwork that  donned the halls of Linderman Elementary School. Displays included letters of thanks addressed to local veterans, memorabilia encased in glass, and a wall of honor with photographs of relatives of students and teachers who are still or who have served in the armed forces.

Third-grade teacher Mona Friday, a veteran Staff Sergeant in the Army, said she was proud of her daughter, private first class Lindy Rutledge, who recently completed Army firefighter training. Rutledge, home on leave, helped open the ceremony with a prayer.

Both mom and daughter were dressed in Army uniforms for the event.

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