IMS students send valentines to soldiers overseas

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2004

The outside of the card was decorated with hearts and ribbons. The inside of the card bore a simple letter: "Dear soldier, thank you for serving in the war. If you didn't serve in the war we wouldn't be able to go to church, school, the pool or to the store. Happy Valentine's Day. Love, Tracie Crockrell."

It was a holiday gesture from an Ironton fifth-grader to an American serviceman or woman away from home.

Again this year, Ironton Middle School fifth graders are sending handmade Valentine's Day cards to patients at the Huntington, W.Va., Veterans Administration Hospital and to members of the Ohio National Guard 216th Engineer Battalion from Portsmouth and Ironton. The 216th is right now in Indiana undergoing training before leaving for Iraq.

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Reading and Language Arts teacher Heather Kerns said the students have undertaken the Valentine's Day project each year for the last four years. This year, they decided to do things a little differently and send some of the cards to people serving their country who are from their own community.

In teaching the students about the sacrifices made by service men and women, Kerns said she stressed that the members of the 216th Battalion were nurses, teachers and people who worked in this community before they answered the call to go to Iraq.

"We're doing this to cheer them up. It's hard to be away from home and away from your family at this time. We hope to be able to bring a little bit of home to them," Kerns said. "There are two things I told them I want them to learn from this. One: I want them to learn the basics of writing a friendly letter and two: I want them to go away with a good feeling knowing they have brightened someone's day."

The children said they have indeed learned something, and they hope their gesture of friendship will be evident when the card reaches its destination.

"I hope they feel good," Kelli Jackson said as she glued a heart to the front of her card. Kelli said she didn't know anyone who is serving overseas now, but her grandfather was in Vietnam.

Shelby Corbin's card read "Dear Soldier, thank you for everything you've done. You risked your life for my life."