Oregon's Coy Elementary School observed Veterans Day in a big way, with music, song, and speeches in the school gym, complete with an American Legion color guard.
"I feel it's the most important program we do every year," explained principal Amy Molnar, resplendent in her patriotic sweater bearing an American flag on the front.
This year, she added to the educational aspects of the event by including a demonstration of the proper way to fold the Stars and Stripes -- what Ms. Molnar called "flag etiquette" -- and the meaning of the flag.
About 20 veterans were in attendance, including one very well known to the school: fourth-grade teacher Chuck Wine, a retired Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who dressed in camouflage fatigues and gently put his students through their paces as they sang the "Star Spangled Banner." He pronounced himself well pleased with his students and the way the hour-long observance turned out.
"I thought it was fantastic. It's always a good event. We look forward to it," he said.
Cheyenne Boyd, 9, a student of his, agreed. She said she had learned a lot from the program, in which she participated by reciting a letter to veterans. "I said thanks to everyone who was in the military," she said.
The color guard was provided by the Christ Dunberger Post 537. Also represented was the Daughters of the American Revolution. Deborah Dushane, regent of the group's Fort Industry Chapter, distributed cards with the message "Dear Military Veteran, Thank you for your service, sacrifice, and commitment to the preservation of our freedom."
Jennifer Findsen, a Coy counselor, and Jeff Ziviski, a school board member, spoke movingly, and respectively, about what it means to be a veteran and what the flag is.
Ms. Findsen said she was "a niece, a cousin, and a mother of veterans who served in the Army, Air Force, and Marines." She then delivered an address called "Remember Me? A Tribute to Our Flag."
It began "Some people call me the Star Spangled Banner or Old Glory, but whatever they call me, I am your flag the flag of the United States of America. . . . I was flown at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Shiloh, and Appomattox. I was there at San Juan Hill, the trenches of France, in the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome, and the beaches of Normandy. . . ."
Mr. Ziviski recounted how he had joined the Army after graduating from high school. "It was a family tradition going back generations," he explained.
The event also included a flag-folding demonstration by Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and an armed service medley featuring excerpts from "The Army Song, " "The Marine Corps Hymn," "The U.S. Air Force" song, and "Anchors Aweigh."
Ms. Molnar's closing remarks, called "Who's Packing Your Parachute?," told the true story of a Naval aviator who bailed out over North Vietnam and survived a long, harsh captivity. Years later, he noticed someone staring at him in a restaurant back home. Finally, the man came over, identified himself, shook the former pilot's hand, and said, "I packed you parachute. I guess it worked." It turned out the stranger had been a sailor aboard the aviator's carrier.
The principal urged her audience members to "think about this for yourself," and thank the parachute packers in their lives who have helped them out.