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South Jordan Journal

South Jordan students thank veterans for service, sacrifice

Dec 01, 2017 08:00AM ● By Julie Slama

A Cub Scout salutes the flag before joining his Jordan Ridge classmates to sing to seniors at Carrington Care assisted living center. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

Fifth-grader Will Evershed and his Jordan Ridge Elementary classmates walked to Carrington Care assisted living center to share a message for veterans and their families.

“We wanted to sing for veterans because what we have is what they gave us,” said the 11-year-old whose grandfather served in the National Guard.  

Will’s favorite song, “Thank You Military,” was to “thank them for what they did.”

The patriotic program, which highlighted Betsy Ross sewing the flag of symbolic colors and Thomas Jefferson penning the Declaration of Independence, also recognized the veterans as their heroes, and the students even sang, “You’re a Hero.”

Carrington Activities Director Diane Kunz said the students have an impact on the Carrington community.

“It does them a great service when these young people come in and honor them,” she said, adding that Jordan Ridge students have sung patriotic songs to the seniors for about seven years. ”It makes it special.”

Principal Melissa Beck said Jordan Ridge students appreciate the seniors.

“It’s cool to see how Carrington Court is part of our community,” she said. “They’re our friends and neighbors.”

The Veterans Day program also included remarks from U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Keith Topolski, a prayer by Certified Clinical Interfaith Chaplain Rebecca Anderson and the acknowledgement of veterans who served in Germany during World War II to those in Korea in three branches of military.  

Al Casler remembered serving in the South Pacific with the Navy.

“It was a long time ago that we went island to island looking for the Japanese to make our country free for our people,” he said.

Louis Pickett enlisted in the ROTC and rose to the rank of Army captain as he gave psychological tests to several military branches of those wanting to enlist.

“I tested the high school graduates to see if they were fit to be in the service,” he said. ”It was the time between World War II and the Korean War.

“It was good times and relatively peaceful, but we were still on shaky ground with some other countries,” said his wife, Willy, whom Pickett had met on a blind date while studying at Utah State University. “It was a patriotic time.”

Pickett said that it was a proud time to serve.

“We were real patriotic and appreciated the country and our flag,” he said.

Carrington Court Executive Director Michael Nielson thanked the residents.

“We thank you, for you are the greatest generation, and the tremendous sacrifice you made, and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can have the freedoms we have,” he said.

Will’s mother, Emily, was moved by the program.

“It brings tears to my eyes to see that they’re actually singing to these veterans,” she said. “It means so much.”

Jordan School District Superintendent Patrice Johnson said it’s the responsibilities of schools to teach students about Veterans Day.

“Many young people don’t know what a veteran is and why they are being commemorated, so if they aren’t learning in schools, where will they learn?” she said. “When they talk about the meaning of songs, they sing from the heart, and you can tell the impact it makes on them. With the programs where they participate, memorize and know all the songs, it’s a great way to honor veterans in our community.”

At Elk Ridge Middle School, Boy Scouts who attend the school presented the flag while Counselor Camille Cook sang the national anthem, and the honors choir sang patriotic songs in their Veterans Day program. Honored guest speaker South Jordan Mayor-elect Dawn Ramsey spoke how veterans have impacted everyone’s lives and asked students to serve others in ways they could. 

South Jordan Middle School students honored about 20 veterans at their second annual before-school service, which about 350 students and families attended. The event included a flag ceremony and the choir singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the “Armed Forces Medley,” which veterans were acknowledged by their branch.

“It’s important the kids know the sacrifice and remember how they are living in a relatively peaceful country with so much to appreciate,” Assistant Principal Tim Heumann said. “It also helps to make U.S. history come to life, and it becomes a part of them. It’s a positive experience for the veterans and our students.”