We have a Memory Garden at school on the playground, and it is oh so lovely. Children often stop to look, or just “be”. Somehow they understand that it is a special place. Classroom pets who have died are buried with markers. Children who are now in heaven have a special statue or stone so they can be remembered. The Memory Garden was the venue for our Memorial Day Remembrance.
It came to life with the planting of American flags, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Sergeant Curran, our pen-pal from Afghanistan, is back home- he was the proud guest of honor. All the children and staff were there, along with a host of parents and guests.
We opened with The Pledge of Allegiance. My class was honored to hold the big American flag and sing “God Bless America” as we wore our flag hats. I doubt many children have witnessed a service member saluting the flag. Sergeant Curran did, with a demeanor that gave me and others a lump in the throat.
Seargent Curran spoke to the crowd. He told the story of the white star:
“When I was in Afghanistan I carried a white star in my pocket, right here (patting the uniform pocket over his heart). The star is just like the ones on the flag you’re holding. Do you know the blue box in the post office for people to donate old flags? There is a group who takes those flags and cuts out the stars. They send those stars to our military who are stationed overseas.
I always carried my star. It reminded me of home. It reminded me of why I serve. It made me feel proud to be an American.”
Each class led the crowd in singing a patriot song. We sang, “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Red, White, and Blue”. Then, the Yellow Room children sang “God Bless the USA”. When they sang the line, “And I gladly stand up, next to you…” every child pointed both fingers with outstretched arms directly at Sergeant Curren, when they said the word YOU. That line is part of the chorus, and the chorus is repeated many times in the song. That means the YOU finger pointing thankfully happened many times. Not many dry eyes.
Next, a child from each class helped Sergeant Curran to plant an American flag in the Memory Garden, and he planted one on his own. Who knew that nearly a hundred children could be so quiet. They understood with respect and responded with solemn faces.
Finally, Sergeant Curran shook hands with each and every child. What a treat for the children! Here is a partial clip of that:
The Remembrance was over, yet what happened after all the thank yous and goodbyes was perhaps the highlight of the day. A little boy, Jared, and his mother came to personally thank Sergeant Curran. Low and behold, the sergeant reached into his pocket and presented Jared with a patch. He didn’t realize how important that patch would be to Jared until he heard the mother’s story:
“Jared has one other patch which he treasures. You see, last year he had a very difficult time at school. I finally had to pull him out and home school him. Whenever he had a bad day, he would go and get his patch. That was what helped him get through the tough times. And now, you are giving him a patch. I can’t begin to tell you how much this means. Thank you!”
The tears flowed. Jared just beamed. Then, we all had snack together.
Thank you, Sergeant Curran. Thank you for today, and thank you for your service. Never forget. You make me proud.