Replicas of flags fashioned by children’s hands were on display outside a recital hall as the fourth-grade classes at The Westfield School honored veterans Tuesday.
All the students in Glynelle Beeland and Lynn Garrett’s classes had read the book “America’s White Table,” which they based the ceremony on.
“We learned we need to salute our veterans,” 10-year-old Abbie Hulbert said.
Students sang several songs, including “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Fifth-graders joined them on stage for a few songs.
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The performance featured a recorder concert of “When the Saints Go Marching In” along with memorized lines that accentuated the Veterans Day theme.
“We want to get the kids to remember and to not take their freedom for granted,” Beeland said.
The idea for the program started last year. It marked Westfield’s second year holding a celebration of the day.
Students started practicing several weeks ago.
“We wanted them to memorize their lines,” Beeland said.
The ceremony was reverent, and the teachers agreed that students took that frame of mind as they prepared.
“It is a respectable and passionate performance,” Beeland said. “They did a good job” reflecting that mood.
Lower grade students read the book as well so that they could better relate to Tuesday’s performance.
“America’s White Table” is the story of a soldier who leaves home to serve his country.
In the story, a table is set to serve as a reminder of him while he is away. On it are a white tablecloth, a symbol of a soldier’s pure heart, as well as other items that hold significant meaning: a red rose, two lemons, salt, a glass, a candle and a black napkin.
The lemon wedges and salt, for example, represent a soldier’s bitter fate and the tears of families waiting for loved ones to return home. The empty chair symbolizes the veterans who are not with their families.
All the symbols, Beeland said, helped even the younger students relate better.
Lower school director Joye Goodwin told those gathered: “All across the country, people will pause to honor veterans. Today we are all humbly grateful.”
At the end of the program, the students said in unison, “Remember, remember, remember.”