McIntosh Middle school social studies teacher Jill Rothenburg is passionate about patriotism. She says that a lot of children today are not as aware as they should be of the sacrifices that U.S. servicemen and women are making, or even that there are veterans within their own families.
When Rothenburg first became involved with McIntosh’s annual Salute to Veterans program, which has been taking place for nearly 20 years, she was in charge of the war museum. She encouraged children to collect war-related memorabilia from their families to put on display at the school.
“I would have kids go home and ask their parents if there were any veterans in their families,” she said. “A lot of the kids didn’t even know, but when they started asking, they found out that they had a lot of veterans in their family.”
Today, Rothenburg is the organizer of the annual event, and she sees it as a great opportunity to teach a younger generation about taking pride in their country.
“It’s about patriotism, not politics,” said Rothenburg. “Part of being a good citizen is being proud of your country and knowing how to honor the people who have selflessly served their country.”
As part of the Salute to Veterans event, which takes place from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at the McIntosh Middle gymnasium, Rothenburg collaborates with the Sarasota Military Academy, whose drumline, bagpipers and honor guard add a special touch to the observance ceremony. Rothenburg invites all area veterans to attend the event, which will feature a speech contest and performances by the school’s chorus and band, which will play music from the 1940s for the World War II veterans and 1960s-era music for the Vietnam veterans.
The ceremony will also feature a walk of honor, during which the veterans, while their respective service songs are played, will line up according to branch of service. The Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem will follow.
“It makes for a very stirring beginning to the program,” said Rothenburg. “I hope the kids are keenly aware that there are people, who they don’t even know, who are serving their country for them. It’s important to understand that and to learn about our past.”