Tara Elementary School recognizes veterans and first responders during its annual Veterans Day ceremony.
Marine Corps veteran Horras Sheffield proudly watched his grandson, Rondre Dent, sing “God Bless America” with his classmates during Tara Elementary School’s fifth annual Veterans Day ceremony.
“I loved it,” Sheffield said. “He did a great job. I never knew he had all this talent.”
Sheffield, who served in the Marine Corps from 1966 to 1968 and was deployed to Vietnam, was one of several veterans and first responders related to students and staff at Tara Elementary who attended the ceremony Nov. 8.
“It was very emotional and amazing to give them this memory and an opportunity to say, 'Thank you' to our heroes and show appreciation for them and our country,” said Barbara Siffermann, the school’s music teacher.
When veterans and first responders were asked to stand to be recognized, about 40 people stood in the crowd of at least 100.
“It’s nice they acknowledge the fact we fought for this land,” Sheffield said.
During the ceremony, fourth-graders sang seven patriotic songs including “All-American Me and You,” “America the Beautiful” and “Proud to be an American.”
The rest of the school and guests joined in the fun during a sing-along of “This Land is Our Land” and “Grand Old Flag.”
“Ever since the kids have been in kindergarten, I’ve taught them these songs,” Siffermann said. “Every year we learn a new one, and so to hear them singing together really unifies us as a community and as a country.”
While the fourth-graders sang “God Bless America” a PowerPoint presentation of photos of veterans and first responders flashed on a TV screen to honor those who are related to students and staff at the school. About 70 photos were submitted for the presentation.
“I tried to explain to the children the pictures that they saw are part of our Tara family,” she said. “They are family members of our friends and staff members who we are with every day, and I want them to understand that our heroes are with us all the time right here in our own community. I hope they’ll take this memory throughout their whole life.”
Siffermann’s husband, Kevin, a Navy veteran who served for four years in the mid-1990s and fought in the Persian Gulf War, was shown in the presentation.
Siffermann felt this year was the first her twin sons, Austin and Noah, who are in third grade, understood what it meant to have their father’s photo in the presentation.
On Nov. 6, U.S. Army veteran Stuart Taube went to the school to speak to students about Veterans Day in preparation of the ceremony.