Story from the Daily Herald:
In the United States today, there are 20 million living veterans. These are men and women who have fought or are fighting to protect our freedoms. To honor these veterans, many schools conducted special assemblies Monday, including Park View Elementary in Payson, which welcomed country music singer Nathan Osmond to entertain students, staff, parents and veterans.
"It is such a joy for us to have Nathan come to our school to help us honor Veterans Day," said Kristie Reynolds, Park View principal. "I think we need to make Veterans Day a big deal for these men and women who fought for our freedoms, and this is why we decided to do this at our school."
The assembly opened with Osmond singing the national anthem. Kelli Ferre and Heather Hutchinson's fourth-grade classes then sang, "I'm Proud to be an American."
"What an honor it is to have these young students singing," Osmond said. "Their tender voices are so touching."
Osmond talked to the students about what a veteran is and why they are important. His question to the students was "Is our freedom free?" Osmond explained to the students that freedom isn't free, that it comes at a cost that we call sacrifice. Osmond also shared with the students that his father is a veteran, along with many members of his family, and that honoring veterans is very important to him.
"These men and women who you see on the news boarding airplanes, well they are not going on vacations," Osmond said. "They are getting on these planes to go fight for you and I, so we can have our freedom."
A favorite song of Osmond's is "21 Guns," and he dedicated it and sang it to Jamie Towse, a regular substitute at Park View. Her son was Army Medic Pfc. Cody Towse, who was killed in May in Afghanistan.
"This was my favorite song that he sang," said Madison Carroll, a sixth-grader. "It made me feel how blessed I am to have my freedom and to have a daddy who is a veteran."
Reynolds said she hoped by having the assembly for her students that they would come to realize why veterans are so special and why we should stop and realize all they have done for us, not only on Veterans Day, but each and every day.
"My favorite song was him singing the National Anthem," said Tripp Kay, a first-grader. "Veterans are special to me because we know someone who is practicing to go to the Army. He hasn't left yet, but he is going to sometime soon."
At American Preparatory Academy in Salem, students, staff and parents joined together to honor veterans. An assembly was held with more than 60 veterans in attendance.
Each grade level performed a song and the sixth-grade classes also recited the poem "The Things That Make a Soldier Great."
"I am grateful for all our veterans," said Hallie Woodruff, a sixth-grade student. "Something I have learned from studying about veterans is that they are all veterans whether they live or pass away and we need to honor them all."
Two students from fifth grade read their essays that were chosen as winners. The essays were about why they are grateful for veterans.
"I am happy that I was chosen to read my essay," said Reagan Henderson, a fifth-grade student. "It is so kind that these men and women give their lives for us to have freedom. They need to be honored more."
Among the many veterans in attendance was American Legion Auxiliary 84 Commander Ted Jones from Santaquin, who in 2004 helped place five monuments in the Santaquin Cemetery to represent the different armed forces.
"It is such a joy when we are honored," Jones said. "It feels so wonderful to be appreciated and recognized today. A lot of work has gone into this Veterans Day Program."
The fourth-grade classes sang a song honoring each branch of the armed service. As their branch song was sung, the veterans stood while everyone applauded. Each veteran was then called by name individually and presented with a star and a note written on it, by a student, thanking them for their service along with a patriotic pin for them to wear.
"These students have worked so hard preparing for this special day," said Dee Henderson, a member of the school's board. "Our students have such a positive experience being here at our school and you can see such a growth in them all."