Loyalsock Valley Elementary honors service

All branches of the military and many of the past century’s wars and conflicts were represented at the Loyalsock Valley Elementary School during its Veterans Day program Thursday afternoon.

Lyter Elementary will celebrate Veterans Day 1 p.m. today.

Through the course of the program, students brought their veteran loved ones to their classes for questions, then gathered together for a special presentation of the national anthem, a medley of each military branch’s song, speeches from two veterans and fathers of children at the school and more.

Students were taught over the past week about different patriotic symbols and songs and American history.

“This is a favorite day of the kids,’ “ said Paula Pulizzi, librarian for the Montoursville Area elementary schools, who developed the program seven years ago. “The kids truly do enjoy all the activities we do today. It is a great history lesson.”

As the medley of armed service theme songs played, veterans of each branch were asked to stand and be recognized. After, Pulizzi asked servicemen and women to stand when she called the name of the war or conflict they had served in.

Veterans from the Iraq war, the Persian Gulf, Vietnam and Korea all were present.

One World War II veteran also was present, and he was honored with a standing ovation and loud cheers from the students.

With multiple generations representing different time periods of military history, students also were able to learn some differences between service today and in the past.

For example, veterans of the Korean War did not have any computers or cellphones with which to communicate with the folks back home. Veterans of more recent conflicts and active-duty military often have cellphones, social media and email as ways to stay in touch with their families.

That’s not always the case, however.

“I was there for the invasion,” Tim Milholin, who served two tours in Iraq as a Marine from 2002-06, told his daughter’s classmates. “We didn’t have any communication.”

Milholin’s daughter, Savanna, shared a letter she wrote about her hero during the program.

“My hero is my dad,” she read. “He’s 33 now, but he was only 18 when he (joined) … I love my hero.”

People join the military for many reasons, Staff Sgt. Joshua Berwanger said during his speech. But each veteran has one reason in common.

“We have a deep love for our country and the freedoms we get to celebrate here,” he said.

He told the students, faculty and staff about a time when a child came up to him and asked, “Why do you wear a flag on your uniform?”

“I didn’t know how to answer that,” Berwanger said. “Then his sister came up and said, ‘It’s not just a flag, it’s the flag. And it means he’s an American.'”

At the end of the program, “Taps” was played to honor the veterans who have passed away. After, everyone sang happy birthday to the Marine Corps, which is celebrating its 241st birthday.

The students ended the program by showing the veterans their gratitude. They sang a song called “Thank a Vet,” and included some sign language.

“If you love your country, thank a vet,” they sang. “If you cherish your freedom, thank a vet for the price they paid, for the sacrifice they made.”