HUGHESVILLE - Dressed in their red, white and blue, fourth-grade students at Ashkar Elementary honored those who defended the rights and freedoms of the country in the military Friday.
About 60 veterans attended the presentation as guests of the fourth grade.
"Soldiers died in the Army for us and we need to remember those who are alive and dead," said Mallory Hampton, fourth-grade student, on why Veterans Day is important to her.
Students spoke about the history of the holiday, sang patriotic songs and recited poems about the military in front of the entire school.
"I think it's important that the students learn about Veterans Day and to be thankful," said Jennifer Nields, fourth-grade teacher.
Nields said that the event has been a staple in the school for about 15 years. The fourth-grade classes begin working on the presentation about a month before the holiday.
Nields said each student is responsible for inviting at least one veteran to the event. She said veterans were still signing up to attend the presentation on Friday. She added that community members help with the program and are excited about it.
"It's a huge community outpouring," she said.
As each veteran was introduced to the audience - the branch of military they served in and any war they fought in also was announced - students presented them with a poppy.
Nields said students get excited about being a part of the event each year.
"They definitely look forward to it," Nields said. "They're excited to dress in their red, white and blue."
For Eddie Ellis, who served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, seeing the students honor the veterans was a gesture he said he didn't receive when he returned home.
"When we came home from Vietnam we didn't get this kind of celebration," he said. "It's a nice feeling that they are doing this."
He added that it felt good to get a "thank you that we didn't get (when soldiers came back from Vietnam)."
Nields said veterans always appreciate the program because it gives them an opportunity to speak with the country's youth.
"They love to talk to the younger kids," she said.
Hampton added that she enjoyed seeing the veterans and being able to honor them.
"I thought it was fun," she said.
Ellis said the students' efforts showed that they understand the importance of military and that "freedom is not free." He also added that after seeing the students' performance, the sacrifice he made was "well worth it."