Harriet Freiberger: Uplifted

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On Tuesday, fifth-graders at Soda Creek Elementary School brought tears to my eyes. Their young voices sang out from the stage in musical tribute to the more than 50 veterans who sat in the audience. Some of the men had attended Soda Creek when it was the new elementary school 50 years ago. Others were parents or grandparents of students on the stage. One soldier leaves today for Afghanistan; another has only recently returned from that front line. For each member of the armed services, the words of a song reverberated: “If you love your freedom, thank a vet.”

Students did exactly that, with an intensity that spoke even more clearly than their words. When the children raised their flags in unison, everyone in the room felt uplifted. When they placed their hands over their hearts during the chorus of “We Celebrate America,” all of us sensed a unity of spirit stronger than any political division.

In that auditorium on Veterans Day 2009, we knew that in spite of all our differences, we are Americans.

Thank you, fifth-graders, for an inspiring and memorable performance. You made this day what it was meant to be. You already have become a gift to this community. Because of you, the future looks brighter.

Thank you, veterans. We can’t say it too many times.

This was my first year to attend what I now know is an annual event, always impressive. Next year, I hope to be at Soda Creek Elementary School again, and I hope to remind everyone whom I know that the fifth-graders will show you how to celebrate.

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