By Nicholas Gallo, Staff Writer
Veterans and ROTC students visited Franklinville Elementary School to host a Veterans Day seminar for students this past Tuesday.
The event held in the school’s gymnasium on Tuesday included veterans speaking to Franklinville Elementary about their military service and current civilian life.
The Student Veteran Services Association came up with the idea of visiting the school. Alexander Thompson and Emily Knitter, both non-traditional veteran students, coordinated the event.
Knitter served in the military for 5 1/2 years as a sergeant and public affairs specialist, and she now works as president of SVA. She said she believed that the event went well and not only did the students have fun, but she did too.
Franklinville students learned how to properly salute and how to march in sync. Michael Rickicki, a sophomore, and Knitter led the charge by practicing.
After the marching session, everyone in the gymnasium went in front of the school with little American flags, which they placed in the ground.
Once everyone planted their flags, Francisco Morales, director of the Student Veteran Services, told the children to “present arms.” The ceremony included a moment of silence.
Thompson served in the army for seven years as a signal support system specialist. The equipment he dealt with needs to consistently work in order for the army to direct the movement of its troops.
Thompson, a freshman biochemistry major, called Franklinville’s Elementary principal, Jessica Schirrmacher-Smith, to organize the visit.
“I called the principal and asked her if she would be interested in having us putting on a presentation for a single class,” Thompson said. “After calls back and forth, the principal,called me back and said to me, ‘Why don’t you present for the whole school?’ that led to generating an itinerary for the presentation and finding people who could help.”
Thompson said the idea was to meet with 40 people. The program was presented for over 400 students. He hopes students have a better understanding on why the holiday is important and hopes they grasp the aspects of wanting to be in the military.
“Helping those kids understand what I did is one of my favorite things,” Thompson said. “I feel like children are learning about the military through video games or movies and not talking to veterans.”
Thompson said he is thankful the school had them present and also thanks the ROTC for helping them.
“I hope that when the kids go home, they tell their parents what happened at school and what they did,” said Knitter. “I hope the kids teach their parents how to march and how to salute properly.”
Knitter said being part of the event was fun, and amazing, and she hopes to continue to bring awareness to veterans on and off campus, especially on Veterans Day, which she believes is meant to pay respect for the ones who fought for her and that she is “paying it forward.”