With a late start once a week, students at Eastmont Middle usually choose to sleep in on Fridays, but not today. Today, Nov. 11, 2016, they had something special in mind more important than sleep.
In honor of Veterans Day, students came to school early on Friday to make sure everything would be perfect for the 170 veterans and their families they expected to attend the school’s third annual Veterans Day breakfast and presentation.
Students lined the sidewalk with American flags, prepared food, set up the cafeteria, and took their posts on either side of every door. Then, at 8 a.m., whenever anyone approached the doors especially their VIP veteran guests the students shook pom poms and cheered, “Hooray! Happy Veterans Day! Thank you for your service!”
The school’s National Junior Honors Society organized the event, which was run entirely by students. Students sang patriotic anthems, announced the program, served the food, bussed the tables, chatted with the veterans, wrote thank you notes and created a video presentation.
“I’m so grateful for your service to this country,” one student said. “It is so easy to take our rights for granted, but we should not take those who fought for our rights for granted.”
The entire student body wrote thank you letters to the veterans, who received the letters as a parting gift. The event was conceived as a way to contribute to the community, a goal of NJHS members.
“These students genuinely want to thank these veterans,” Eastmont NJHS advisor Sarah Exon said. “It’s not that they’ve just been conditioned to be grateful.”
For Doug Sorensen, a member of the Air Force who served for 20 years “and five days,” he adds the school’s presentation was a humbling and encouraging experience. Sorensen flew a bomber aircraft for 16 years, served one year in Vietnam, and finished his career by flying a cargo airplane all over the world.
“This has been so nice,” Sorensen said. Sometimes I wonder if the youth nowadays know what military is and what it does.” Then, his wife, Janice, chimed in.
“After today, it seems like quite a bit.”