By Tech. Sgt. Cheresa D. Theiral
Colorado National Guard public affairs
AURORA, Colo. – Sunrise Elementary School hosted its fifth annual Veterans Day parade to honor former and current members of the U.S. armed services, Oct. 17, 2008.
Among the numerous honorees were 12 current members of the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, from Buckley Air Force Base.
The Airmen officially kicked off the parade by leading the children from their classrooms into the schoolyard, then lined up on a sidewalk across from the playground and cheered as students marched by with patriotic displays.
Three Airmen also sat on the judging panel.
A second grade class chanted, "We love America!" along the parade route. Another class made a helicopter out of cardboard and rolled it down the sidewalk in a wagon. A fifth grade class marched in cadence and carried a cardboard mosaic, so that when each child held up his or her individual tile, a simulated American flag was displayed on one side and "USA" on the other. Kindergarteners in an after school program gave veterans hive fives.
"It was awesome," said Master Sgt. Mike Sundin of the 140th Maintenance Squadron, whose wife Nikki is a first grade teacher at the school. "It's nice to see that as tumultuous as the world is right now, kids are still learning about and respecting our country."
"It's good to see kids display patriotism and creativity at the same time," said Staff Sgt. Desmond Lyles of the 140th Maintenance Squadron, who sat on the judging panel. "It makes me proud, and it's good to be appreciated for what we do."
"I think I enjoyed it more than the kids," said Senior Master Sgt. Lawrence Aragon of the 140th Operational Support Squadron, who was also a judge. "It's nice to see patriotism is still alive in kids, and for them to take the time to make signs and say 'thank you.'"
And when it came time to name the official winner, "All the kids were winners," said parent Mary VanMinnen.
While Veterans Day is officially a few weeks away, Tamara Speidel, the assistant principal of Sunrise Elementary, said the event is simply intended to honor those who have served or are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces, and was timely in respect to current national events.
"It's important for students to learn about what freedom is and how we obtain it," she said. "We feel fortunate we live in a country with freedom. This isn't what it's like anywhere else."