The students at Mark Twain Elementary School once again went the extra mile to honor veterans last Friday during their annual Mark Twain Veterans Day Celebration.
The whole student body gathered in the school’s quad area along with parents, friends, families, neighbors, and of course…veterans. Each year, the students are encouraged to invite a veteran they know to help the students learn more about what Veterans Day honors and what it means to be a veteran.
The day started with a flag salute and pledge of allegiance led by Girl Scout troop #1893,
followed by a beautiful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Ms. Grace Thomas. Then foreshadowing of more “cute singing” to come, Mrs. Colbourn’s fifth grade class came to the front waving their miniature flags and singing “She’s a Grand Old Flag” to finish the opening
One of the honorees in attendance, LBPD East District Commander Pat O’Dowd, introduced
the student winners for various Veterans Day-related awards, including essay winner Natalie
Week who read her essay about what veterans mean to her.
The keynote speaker for this year’s event was veteran and current pastor at Bethany Church
Jeff Levine. Jeff, a charismatic speaker, talked to the kids and adults about the idea of sacrifice.
“We use the word ‘sacrifice’ often when talking about veterans, but not so much in other parts of
our lives. What about sacrificing your time or your money toward a cause you believe in?”
Levine encouraged everyone to not only honor veterans but to learn from them. Those who
truly admire their sacrifice for freedom should try and mirror that in their everyday lives!
After Levine’s encouraging words came everyone’s favorite part of the morning. Each grade
level stood up and sang a different song for each military branch—everything from “Yankee
Doodle Dandy” to “Anchors Aweigh” and “The Halls of Montezuma”—with cute kids waving
their flags along.
After the singing was a chance to truly give the veterans in attendance their dues. In a truly
impressive and moving few minutes, the various wars and missions were called out over the
PA system starting with the most recent, and the veterans were encouraged to stand for
applause. The calls went all the way back to World War II and two veterans remained standing. That moment garnered the biggest ovation of the day.
The assembly ended with Adam Portocarrero of Morey’s Music playing a beautiful patriotic medley on trumpet. As the triumphant sounds of “God Bless America” rang over the quad, hundreds of students waved their handheld flags in the air to show their appreciation. It was truly an inspirational event.
The impact of Veterans Day across Long Beach and America definitely varies; however, it is safe to say that the students of Mark Twain Elementary School will always show a special reverence for those who fought for our freedom.
Each year, this poem is read during the Mark Twain Veterans Day celebration to truly hit home the point:
It is the Veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the Veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Veteran, who salutes the Flag,
It is the Veteran, who serves under the Flag,
It is we the students at Mark Twain Elementary who say Thank you, to the Veterans!