The West Utica Veterans Day Celebration
West Utica Elementary recently celebrated its 25th year of sponsoring a Veterans Day Celebration. The program honors veterans from conflicts from WWII through today with songs and speeches. The program is jointly sponsored by West Utica Elementary and the VFW Post 4659 on Veterans Day every November.
Mary Kerner, West Utica Teacher
The purpose of the celebration is to show our appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy as American citizens. We started the celebrations based on similar programs I have seen sponsored in the Upper Peninsula, where I grew up. However, I wanted the celebrations in our community to be directly hosted and sponsored by the students.
The Veterans Day celebration is a great way to start our school year. It instills and promotes a sense of patriotism for our students, and by Veterans Day the students clearly understand our purpose.
A nice part of the event is the gift that we annually give the returning veterans. I have heard several of the veterans comment how much they appreciate the small tokens from the students and keep them from year to year.
I know the celebration touches the hearts of the veterans. You see the look in their faces and even the tears in their eyes. It gives you just a feeling. And it gives the kids a feeling too, that we have done something really special for some special people.
William Dobbie, Senior Vice Commander
All of the young people in the school participate - right from kindergarten up to the sixth graders. As they walk out of the assembly, some of them will shake your hand and say "thanks" or ask "are you a soldier?" They also give the veterans a different gift every year. Sometimes it might be something with a safety pin attached that we can wear, sometimes it will be something in gold or something that says hero. We always get us something to take away with us and it is always very much appreciated by the veterans.
Veterans always remember the time that they served. Sometimes you think the community may forget your service, so it is nice to know that in West Utica and Utica Community Schools it never slips from their memories. They are keeping a high profile on the veterans and we are pleased to be part of the event.
We have a part of the program where we educate the students on what it means to serve your country. Every year we try to change it a bit so there is a new lesson for them every year. We also enjoy the singing that is part of the programs. The students may not believe we can hear their voices, but we hear each one of them.
Many of the veterans that show up from the community are relatives of the young people at West Utica. We have veterans attend that are parents, grandparents and even some great grandparents. It is something that all of us look forward to every November.
Utica Community Schools Board of Education