JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Soldiers from 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, presented the colors and spoke to young students in support of four Lakewood, Wash., elementary school Veterans Day assemblies held across the Clover Park School District, Nov. 8.
The color guard and guest speakers brought military tradition and experience to enhance kids’ understanding and appreciation of the national holiday celebrating those who have served in the armed forces, our country’s veterans.
“You see the hat that I’m wearing and the spurs that I’m wearing? We wear these on special occasions so that we can remember our traditions and honor the cavalry officers and every soldier who came before us,” said Maj. Ted Stokes, executive officer of 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4-2 SBCT, 7th Inf. Div., speaking to a full auditorium at Lake Louise Elementary School.
“We have a lot of freedoms and a lot of privileges that other countries around the world don’t have. The reason we have those freedoms and rights is because of our veterans,” Stokes said.
“Veterans are people who protect us,” said Jim Pfeiffer, Idlewild Elementary School principal, addressing an assembly of more than 400 students, parents, teachers and guests. The I Corps Band played patriotic songs and other musical selections met with cheers and applause.
Lakewood is partnered with 4-2 SBCT in JBLM’s community connector program, which links municipalities and specific military units to encourage mutual support. The relationship grew close in 2007 when the unit first deployed to Iraq. Recently, the city welcomed home the “Raider” Brigade from their deployment to Afghanistan with a parade and community festival.
“We really appreciate the support we get from the military,” said Pfeiffer in reference to the assembly and other events such as “field day”, where the school celebrates physical fitness in a variety of outdoor activities. In the past, the “Raiders” have brought Stryker vehicles to the event for the kids to explore.
“Trust and teamwork are two really important things I learned when I was a little kid in elementary school. That helped me be a better soldier,” said Stokes.
“I was a history teacher so I understand the importance of freedom and how important it is that we understand our rights and responsibilities as free Americans. Every freedom is something that we have to earn and protect.” Pfeiffer said.