For the past 16 years, Lakewood students have had the opportunity to learn about veterans, US history and the importance of Veterans Day.
Presented in partnership with Help to Others youth volunteer program, Garfield Middle School is hosting the Veterans Day Recognition Program on Nov. 7.
The event is free and open to the public.
“I think the most compelling reason to recognize and thank our veterans in the school setting is to provide our students the history of our freedom and the faces behind our freedom,” said Garfield Middle School principal Mark Walter.
“This is such a mutually beneficial event for all involved.”
The event will feature the presentations of the colors; guest speakers; the Patriot’s Pen student essay; and the sounds of the Armed Forces on Parade from the Garfield Band.
An original composition from Lakewood's own Bob and Gary Rice dedicated to America's Veterans is also expected.
Past guest speakers include veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf and Iraq wars.
“They’ve shared personal accounts, sacrifices, opportunities, and tragedies they've encountered while serving in the military,” said Walter.
Veterans will make their way around to the classrooms to talk to the students.
“History can be a pretty obscure topic to middle school students,” Walter said. “These vets bring it alive and make it engaging and more concrete with their stories.”
Richard Healy, the commander of the Lakewood and Rocky River Joint Veterans Council and organizer of the annual event, said that the event is a collaborative effort.
“Although we are not by-name educators, we do try and do is provide some very basic information about our country's past wars and conflicts,” Healy said.
The VFW, Disabled American Veterans and the Lakewood and Rocky River Joint Veterans Council joined forces to make the program “a time to honor our brave men and women in uniform around the world and to provide a unique learning experience as to what Veterans Day symbolizes.”
“By being in the classroom it becomes more personal and sometime challenging,” he said.
“Students hear what Veterans Day represents. They (learn) that among those they may see walking down the street or in the grocery store that veterans are everywhere. And we tell them that when they see a veteran to walk up to him or her and say ‘welcome home’ and ‘thanks for your service’ means so much to us.”
“The only negative aspect of our Veteran's Breakfast and Recognition Assembly is that each year we lose more and more veterans,” Walter said.
“Unfortunately, many of those that were with us 16 years ago are no longer capable of attending or have passed on. It is so important for our students to keep this program well attended.”
Those interested in participating — or would like to RSVP for the event — are encouraged to call 440-899-7050, between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
“All veterans have one common factor,” Healy said. “We are proud of our country and our service and will give up our lives to defend it. We have a very unique bond. We are this countries heroes and we will never forget it.”