by Briana Sutherland
Students at Meadowvale Elementary in Elk River paid tribute to all military branches in a Nov. 10 program for Veterans Day that fell on a non-school day.
The program began with students, family and veterans lining up in front of the school at the start of the school day to watch five honor guard members fire off three rounds from AR-15s in tribute to military men and women.
The program continued in the gymnasium with a welcome from Principal Dave Hauer and reveille played on recorders by fifth-grade students. Many songs were sung, some by specific grades, some as an entire school, such as “Three Cheers for America,” “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.”
A tribute to Meadowvale alumnus Tony Thompson from two of his former teachers, Mrs. McKernin and Mrs. Ellingson, was presented. They recalled memories of having him as a student and read a slideshow with photos from Tony’s experience overseas in Afghanistan.
Thompson is 26 years old, a first lieutenant and currently enlisted in the Army. He was deployed June 13 and is scheduled to return home next June. He will return to his home base in Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo., and his mountain cur dog named Keigo. He’s undecided if he is going to re-enlist after his current enlistment is over. If he chooses to not re-enlist he has goals of being a part of the DNR or forestry in Colorado. He is a 2009 graduate of Michigan Tech and has a degree in biological sciences as part of the ROTC.
“He loves the outdoors and nature,” said his mother, Mary Thompson, who works at Meadowvale. “Tony is one of our six boys and we’re all very proud of him and miss him very much — especially me, his mom.”
Guest speaker U.S. Marine Mark Innerbichler read the story “H is for Honor” which gives every letter of the alphabet a relation to all branches of the military. Innerbichler enlisted in 1980 and served eight active and eight reserve years as a Marine. He rose to the rank of major at discharge.
Following the story, students who had a relative serve the country presented their family member with a discharged rifle shell given by the Sherburne County Honor Guard. Each branch was recognized separately with a small speech presented by various students.
The program closed with the Mustang Choir singing “We Remember,” and taps being played on recorders by fifth-grade students.