From the Heart: Group visits RH

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 14, 2004

Like tiny soldiers standing at attention, they pledged allegiance to the flag with hands over their hearts, their young faces smiling as they mouthed the patriotic words.

Approximately 850 Rock Hill Elementary students attended a school-wide Veterans Day assembly on Thursday. While some may have been too young to know the full magnitude of service given by veterans past and present, the children nonetheless expressed their appreciation.

"Our country wouldn't be like it is today if it hadn't been for veterans fighting for us," said Sarah Travis, a 9-year-old third grader.

Email newsletter signup

Senior Vice Commander Charles Meadows and Commander Ron McFann from the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 765, headed up the special assembly. To start it off right, Meadows led the children in the pledge. Later, he presented the school with an American flag.

The assembly gave the students an opportunity to learn more about November 11 and what it means to them as American citizens.

"Veterans Day is a time to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy," said Jordan Hairston, a 9-year-old third grader.

Jordan said his grandfather served at Pearl Harbor. While some students said they didn't personally know a veteran, others at Rock Hill get to see one every day: Fifth grade teacher John Stevens served in the Persian Gulf War.

"It's important to honor veterans that have served our country," said Jerry Evans, assistant principal for grades 3-5. "It's also important that our kids know what Veterans Day is all about."

The assembly helped to do that, but it also offered Meadows the opportunity to share his experiences with a younger generation. Meadows served in the Marine Corps as an M60 Machine Gunner during the Vietnam War. McFann also served in Vietnam as an Army Infantryman.

"It means a lot to me," Meadows said. "It's a different war, a different time and a different world, but these children are well educated about what's going on around them."

After the assembly Thursday, some of the students had the chance to meet Meadows and McFann. They filed out of the gymnasium single file, giving the veterans high-fives and saluting them. All were smiling and some even hugged the two men, thanking them for their service.

For Meadows, spending time with the children was thanks enough.

"We just did our job," Meadows said. "If you talk to any veteran, he'll tell you that he was only doing his job."