Celebrating America

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

CHESAPEAKE - A woman quietly wiped the tears from her eyes as a community honored America, its veterans and remembered those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

Last Friday, Chesapeake Elementary School showed its pride in the country by presenting "Honoring America," where the school and the community came together to celebrate and remember.

"Today we honored America by praying, by recognizing the constitution of the United States, by saying the Pledge of Allegiance, one nation under God and we sang in tribute," Principal Jack Finch said. "That's how our staff, our community and our students celebrated the country."

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The program was planned by Sandy Lemke, Marsha Ater, Beverly Tillis and Elizabeth Crump, who are so patriotic, Finch called them the "Paul Revere Team."

Finch welcomed the community and students. Robin Kimball and Angie Underwood sang "America the Beautiful" and the invocation was presented by Jordan Mitchell from Chesapeake High School. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by local Boy Scouts.

The book "The Flag We Love" was read by teachers as soft music and a picture presentation played and the audience listened quietly. Music teacher Sandra Lemke told the story of "The Star Spangled Banner."

Everyone rose to their feet, hands on their hearts and singing echoed through the gymnasium as the crowd raised their voices in song.

Fourth grade students recited an ABC of the principals on which our country was founded.

"I think it's important the students understand how blessed we are in America and have a loyalty to our country," teacher Marsha Ater said.

Ater said they have tried to teach the students respect for the flag and what to do when "The Star-Spangled Banner" is played.

The school celebrated America all last week, including studying Francis Scott Key and "The Star-Spangled Banner," discussing and remembering Sept. 11, and studying Constitution Day and National Day of Prayer.

"I thought this was very fitting," Ater said. "It's been a patriotic week."

During the program, they also recognized

all the people from the first responders: Fire, police, rescue departments and paramedics. The crowd was reminded that those people represented all those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on New York and Washington D.C.

The audience then sang "God Bless America" as some in the group wiped away tears from their eyes as the song was dedicated in memory of Sept. 11, as a patriotic slide show played.

It was at this time that all branches of the service were recognized and those

were asked to stand when their branch of service that their family served in was called.

Many from both the audience and the schoolchildren rose to their feet as each branch was called - emphasizing how many local residents are a part of our armed forces.

Sandra Lemke then told the story of "Taps" and the lights were dimmed as the song played and all were asked to bow their heads in reverence.

At the end of the program all the veterans were asked to come to the front of the auditorium and be recognized. As they made their way to the front, clapping and cheers for those who served our country went wild; some eyes welled with tears.

Each veteran was recognized and introduced himself to the crowd. Many in the crowd were visibly moved by the moment.

"I was so proud that we could honor our many veterans that were in attendance today," Finch said.

Army veteran Jason Huff said that the program made him proud to have served his country.

"It made me feel glad that I was part of the Army," he said.

His son, fourth grader Logan Huff, said that the program was good, but he was nervous when he got up on stage.

Logan was clearly very proud of his dad, taking time to give him a big hug before he returned to class.