‘Thank you, soldier’: Cottonwood Elementary students honor veterans by singing, sharing history

For many children, Veterans Day is just a day they don’t have to go to school, but students at Cottonwood Elementary School in Yakima  know it’s about honoring sacrifices soldiers have made for their freedom.

More than 100 of those students celebrated their newfound knowledge with a performance Wednesday night for their parents, extended families and community members.

Second-graders and third-graders sang their hearts out and performed a play about students traveling to Washington, D.C. to tour memorials honoring veterans.

“These memorials mean more to many people than huge statues and structures,” one student said during the play.

Throughout the performance, students shared facts about wars throughout America’s history and about the soldiers who fought in those wars — some facts that even surprised parents.

“It’s so important to be educated and know our history and to be thankful to all the people that fought for us,” said Katie Hinckley, who came to support her daughter, Alyssa.

Alyssa Hinckley said her favorite part of the evening was getting to say her line on stage during a scene about the Korean War Veterans Memorial, letting people know that the Korean War started in 1950 and lasted for three years.

“I think it’s pretty cool how they made it and all that stuff and how the soldiers fought for their lives for to keep our country safe,” Alyssa Hinckley said.

Cottonwood Elementary fine arts teacher Krista Strother said she wanted to make sure the kids understood that Veterans Day isn’t just a day off from school that they can take for granted.

“My greatest hope is that the kids will have learned more and have a greater understanding about what we are celebrating, what we are honoring, who we are honoring on Veterans Day,” Strother said.

Many of the families in the audience had loved ones who are veterans or soldiers who are currently enlisted.

“My grandfather is 97 years old and he served in World War II and he’s still very much alive, enjoying this country,” said Anne Snipes, who came to watch her daughter, Annika, perform.

Snipes said on every Veterans Day, they send her grandfather a card with a poem inside and a special inscription for him.

“Thank you for your service,” Annika Snipes said.

Snipes said it’s important to her that her daughter understands the principles that our country was built on and that people in this nation are privileged to have the freedoms they do.

“And that there are people willing to sacrifice a great deal, sometimes even their lives, to protect those freedoms,” Snipes said. “And so learning that at a young age allows you to respect those those principles from an earlier age and throughout your life.”

Strother said she hopes the performance will stick with the people who participated and attended and encourage them to reach out to veterans on Friday to let them know how much they are appreciated.

“Because it means so much, not just for the veterans, but for the veteran’s family,” Strother said. “It’s really impactful. It’s important that our whole country backs up the people who are fighting for our freedom.”

TOP HEADLINES FROM THE KAPP-KVEW NEWS STAFF:

CLICK HERE: Celebrate Veterans Day with these events around the Mid-Columbia