“For them to put on this program is just great, a wonderful thing,” said Ced Fields, a World War II Army veteran who has attended more than eight assemblies.
He sat next to Jim Dorn, a Marine who served 15 months and 29 days in Korea.
“I was shot, stabbed, beaten and blown up,” Dorn said. “I was supposed to be in Korea for nine to 12 months. Obviously that was not calculated by a Harbor View fifth-grader.”
The assembly began with the school’s Boy Scouts posting the flag and the Girl Scouts singing “America the Beautiful.”
Several sixth-grade students read original patriotic tributes that they’d written as class assignments.
“After the battles our troops have won, our country always stands as one, all the hardships you faced seems very insane, but your courage shone through all the pain,” read students Grace Hummelberg and Lisa Cordes.
Then, 20 veterans — most parents or grandparents of students — stood one at a time to introduce themselves. A few offered advice.
“For the youngsters looking for opportunities when they leave school, look at the military training programs,” said Erit McTernan, who was in the Army in the 1950s.
Ray Baltera, an Air Force veteran, said the assembly was one of many ways that the school showed patriotism.
“They say the Pledge of Allegiance every day,” he said. “They sing patriotic songs all the time. This is a great school.”
School board members Dana Black and Karen Yelsey attended the event and praised it.
“I look forward to this program every year,” Yelsey said. “I think it’s amazing. They bring in so many veterans. It’s overwhelming.”
Parents also said the program, particularly the music, was powerful.
“When they sing ‘Proud to Be An American,’ and the kids raise their hands up, it just kills me,” said Wendy Simpson. “As usual, I cried.”
The program was organized by Laura Gelgand, whose daughter graduated from Harbor View a year ago. Gelgand said she hoped to recruit a parent to take over planning next year’s program.
Harbor View began holding Veterans Day assemblies nearly 10 years ago when former principal Mellissia Christensen began inviting veterans to school so students could honor them.
After the assembly, veterans and family members gathered for refreshments in the school’s library.