For many people, Veterans Day is the national recognition of the sacrifices of all of America’s veterans in both war and peace.
But for Matthew Schiller, 10, of New Market it was recognition of one very important serviceman.
“I’m very proud [of my dad],” Matthew said.
Matthew’s father, U.S. Army Col. Lee Schiller, was one of many veterans to participate in New Market Elementary School’s annual Veterans Day program Friday.
Schiller has been a part of the annual school event for about four years. He even participated in last year’s ceremony via the Internet phone service Skype from Baghdad, Iraq, where he was stationed for a year.
This year Schiller recited a poem by R.W. Lillard, written in response to “In Flanders Field,” a famous poem written during World War I.
Lillard’s poem read in part:
“Fear not that ye have died for naught; the torch ye threw to us we caught.
Ten million hands will hold it high, and freedom's light shall never die ...”
“I look forward to this day every year,” Schiller said of the ceremony. “It’s just really, really amazing.... I’m so proud of the school.”
Schiller returned home from Iraq in July.
“It’s great to be in New Market,” he said.
The annual ceremony helps the more than 750 students at the school understand the importance of the national holiday and the sacrifices of the nation’s veterans, Principal Cindy Alvarado said.
“We recognize that all of our veterans have given something of themselves, and some have given all to lay down their lives in the protection of freedom that we hold so dear,” she said. “I hope that we can always be humble and grateful to those brave American patriots who suffered and sacrificed ... to defend the principles of the Constitution of the United States.”
As part of the ceremony, students sang several patriotic songs, including “I Love My Country” and “Proud to Be an American,” and passed out red poppies made out of tissue paper to veterans in the packed school auditorium.
The ceremony was started five years ago by Julia Seiler, a music teacher at the school.
Matthew, a fifth grader at the school, said the ceremony helps his fellow classmates remember the sacrifices of his father and other veterans.
“It was very hard to be in school when [my dad] was gone,” he said. “We always need to recognize the veterans. ... It’s very important because if we don’t have things like this kids will forget about it.”
“I thought [the ceremony] was great,” said Grace Carter, 7, a second grader. “I was glad that the veterans were finally being thanked because they don’t get thanked that often.”