The American flag was displayed at the entrance of the gym at Cortland Elementary School.
A few feet from where it stood were about a dozen men and women who took an oath to protect it.
Students filed onto the school’s stage and gymnasium floor Monday to present a Veterans Day program. They sang patriotic songs, read original poems and recognized veterans for their service.
With American flags clutched in their hands, all students sang “You’re a Grand Old Flag” before continuing the program.
“Thank you for your service. I appreciate everything you did for our country,” student Joel Roberts read to the crowd.
The program made an impression on some of the veterans in the crowd.
Michael Albert, a retired U.S. Army veteran, said military service is a family tradition, as he has had relatives serve in multiple wars and conflicts.
Albert, who also served alongside a son in Iraq, said he loved the program. Not only did it honor those who served, but it came from a few close to him.
“A couple of my grandkids were up there,” he said. “It’s pretty cool. I was a guest speaker here when I came home from Iraq.”
Albert served for 25 years and did multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2003 and 2013.
“I did Desert Shield and Desert Storm, too,” he said.
He was grateful the school offers the event to those who have served.
“It means a lot, and I’m glad they do it,” Albert said. “If it wasn’t for past veterans, veterans like myself wouldn’t be doing what they’re able to do today.”
Wally Langford, another U.S. Army veteran who attended the program, agreed and said he was glad the school continues the program.
“It’s outstanding, and the kids did so many things to show they appreciate veterans,” he said. “They all contributed.”
Langford served from 1994 to 2010, completing tours in Iraq in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
“I remember my fallen soldiers and the ones who have returned,” he said.
Langford’s son, third-grader Aidan, participated in the program.
“He’s proud as can be,” Langford said.
Aidan said he enjoyed participating in the program.
After the program, students were encouraged to thank veterans and greet them before they left for the day.
Student Sawyer Smith may have summed it up best when he read aloud his message during the program.
“Veterans Day is a day we honor those who have served, fought and risked their lives for our country,” he said. “I have to say thank you to all the men and women in the Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Dear veterans everywhere,
Thank you for your service to protect our country, our flag and our freedom.
No matter what it would take, no matter what the sacrifice, you all did your part.
No matter what branch or rank, we shall honor all of you just the same.
With the pledge and anthem, we shall all sing, to honor the training, the living and the fallen.
No matter if you’re in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or Marines.
Everyone did something, no matter what that something was.
We thank all.
Fifth-grader at Cortland Elementary School