By Spc. Phillip Adam Turner
1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division's, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment were honored by students and faculty of the Venable Village Elementary School, at a Veterans Day program performed by the entire third grade class, Nov. 7, at Fort Hood, Texas.
This event was a chance for these children, many of whom have deployed parents, to show their appreciation and unrelenting affection to the men and women who embody the service uniform that makes them heroes in these children's eyes.
"I love veterans," said Dylan Schildt, a 3rd grade performer whose father is currently deployed to Iraq. "I really liked singing 'Thank a Vet' [a song performed during the ceremony]; I almost started crying while singing it. I always feel happy when the Soldiers come to visit, and especially when they read to us," he said.
The Soldiers of 2nd Bn., 7th Cav. Regt., partnered sponsors of the Venable Elementary School, have been volunteering to help improve the student's academic and emotional growth as they deal with the hardships of a parents or family member's deployment.
"[The Soldiers] are wonderful; they are a God-send. They come and share with the children, they do field day, art, P.E., and the kids get so much out of it; and the Soldiers tell me all the time how much they get out of it," said Cynthia Potvit, principal at the Venable Elementary School. "It is just awesome!"
The Soldiers have filled a huge void for the 628 enrolled students of Venable. With more than 50 percent of the children having a parent currently deployed, some on their 4th or 5th rotations. The Soldiers are an outlet or 'receptacle' for all the love these students have to give with the absence of a parent Potvit said.
"We live it and breathe it [here], and the students are very in-tune with what is going on, they all realize how important what their loved ones do is. That is what today is all about, showing that appreciation and adoration to those who just like their parents are or have served," said Potvit. "It in some ways makes them feel connected to their deployed loved one."
It was with this respect and affection that the third grade class took the stage Friday morning. With a show dedicated to their sponsorship unit and the ones who could not be there with them. But for those who did fill the seats of the schools cafeteria the show would be a reminder of the reason why we celebrate Veteran's Day.
"They did awesome; I am always proud of them, but even more so today," said Potvit.
"The performance was outstanding, I have always enjoyed coming here and teaching the children music, and working with them," said Sgt. Tamika L. McFarlie, an assistant supply specialist with, 2nd Bn., 7th Cav. Regt., 1st Cav. Div., from Lawrence N.C. "So, for them to care enough to do something like this for us is just amazing. It was like, 'Wow!'"
After their performance the students went back to their classrooms accompanied by the Soldiers, where the children had a small question and answer session, as well as reading books and drawing pictures with their Servicemember companions.
The message of today was simple says Potvit. "The children wanted to say thank you and they did that very well. They cherish this kind of time with these Soldiers who represent so much to them. They were excited for today's ceremony, which gave them this opportunity and I know the Soldiers appreciated their performance as well."
"What we represent for the kids is almost like a super hero. [However] they should know [we] appreciate our relationship with them every bit as much as they do, and we are always excited to spend whatever time we can," said McFarlie.