Summit County veterans share stories and wisdom with Frisco Elementary students
‘When I come here and see all you young people and all these smiling faces, this is what it was all about’
Frisco Elementary School students, teachers and administrators, along with nine military veterans, braved sub-freezing morning temperatures to celebrate Veterans Day on Thursday, Nov. 11.
Once students were assembled in front of the school and veterans filed into chairs at the front, the color guard — which was made up of a Frisco Boy Scouts Pack and two Girl Scouts troops — presented the American, Colorado and Cub Scouts flags. The Girl Scouts carried roses, which they later gave to the veterans in attendance.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Frisco Elementary School Principal Todd Kirkendall shared the significance of Veterans Day with students, noting that there would be a moment of silence at the school at 11:11:11 a.m. to reflect on the sacrifices made by service members.
“In World War II, 16 million soldiers served — men and women — 16 million. Today, we have 240,000 left. That’s pretty important, and I’ll tell you why,” Kirkendall said to the students. “I say it’s because we don’t have unlimited time to hear their stories. Their stories give us perspective. Their stories help us understand honor. So when we get home — most of us have veterans in our family — make sure we’re contacting them, we’re listening to their stories, their wisdom and all the different things they did to honor our freedom.”
To put things into age-appropriate terms, Kirkendall explained to students that military service members “fight to end the meanness all over the world.”
Veterans of various ages, military branches and years of service stood up one by one to share their stories.
Edgar Lewin, who has a grandchild at the elementary school, shared his unique position in combat motion picture in the Department of the Army Special Photographic Office. After the ceremony, he explained how he was originally drafted into the military but ended up enlisting. When he was drafted, he was asked what he did for a living. Being only 18 years old, he said he was skilled in motion picture as he had an uncle who taught him how to operate a camera at a young age.
“It was fun,” Lewin said. “I was the last member to sign onto the unit.”
Martin Jones, a former member of the U.S. Army, asked students what flags are flown at the U.S. Postal Service offices. While students got the American flag right, he talked about how the prisoner of war and missing in action flag is also flown and explained its significance. The POW-MIA flag features a silhouette of a prisoner of war in front of a guard tower and barbed wire with the words, “You are not forgotten.”
Jones later shared the story of a fellow service member who he felt was “mentally missing in action” following his service as a member of the Army Rangers in Vietnam, which is part of why the flag is so meaningful to him.
Don Kennan, who was drafted into the Army in 1969, addressed the students with a big smile and said, “When I come here and see all you young people and all these smiling faces, this is what it was all about. All of you people, you are it.”
Judy Day talked about how she took care of injured soldiers in Vietnam and told the students, “You serve not always fighting, but helping too.”
Ninety-seven-year-old Stuart “Boot” Gordon, who was a fighter pilot in the Army in World War II, joked with the students that he was 19 years old.
Kent Meyer, who served in the Army for 30 years, excited the students by sharing how he jumped from airplanes and rapelled from helicopters. Mike Crawford engaged the students by asking what branch of the military they thought he was in when he said, “anchors away.”
Silverthorne resident James “Jimmy” Sides also spoke, sharing how he joined the U.S. Marine Corps after high school and served five combat tours. In 2012, he lost his hand during an explosion and moved to Summit County to train for snowboard racing, competing in the Paralympics in 2018.
The assembly ended with students reciting poems they had written and presenting their own monument designs to honor veterans.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.