Sherman ISD’s Sory Elementary School celebrated past and present members of the United States armed forces Tuesday with its second annual Veterans Day ceremony. The event featured a number of patriotic songs from the school’s fourth grade students and a presentation from Lt. Col. Buddy Merrick on the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance.
The celebration began in the school’s cafeteria with the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance as led by three representatives from the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2772 — Sgt. Larry Harding, Tech. Sgt. Darrell Nichols and Master Sgt. Billy Williams. Third grade teacher Elaine Dalke, who hosted the event, then recognized each of the veterans in attendance, asking them to stand. Sory custodian Arylis McKinney got the biggest ovation of the afternoon as the only familiar face to have served in the armed forces. The other veterans in attendance were Merrick, Donald Barnet, Robert Blevins, William Patterson Jr., Lonnie McCoy, Jason McCoy, John Shepard, Adam Michaels and Joe Smith.
As Dalke introduced each veteran, the Sory student council presented each one with a homemade paper heart decorated like an American flag.
“Thank you so much for being here today,” Dalke told the veterans in attendance. “If it wasn’t for you, we would not be able to do this. So please know that every bit of this comes from the bottom of our hearts. We could never repay what you did for us.”
Sory music teacher Erin Attaway next brought out the fourth grade for a series of songs and facts about America, the Pledge of Allegiance and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Merrick, who served in the United States Army and Air Force during the years of 1960 to 1995, then broke down the different words and phrases in the Pledge to explain to the students what it actually means.
“The Pledge of Allegiance is something very personal,” Merrick said. “The word allegiance means my devotion or my loyalty.”
He then let the students say “U.S.A.” in any way they wanted before organizing them to say each letter as he counted to three on his fingers. He had them repeat the letters as he counted to show them the benefit of being united.
“What was the difference between the last time we did it and the first time we did it,” Merrick asked. “The difference was we were united. We were all together. And that’s what our country is, we’re united.”
Dalke closed out the ceremony by sharing some advice she’d gotten from a veteran many years ago.
“Whenever you meet a veteran, whether they’re still serving or not,” Dalke explained. “When you see them and you tell them thank you for serving our country, say ‘welcome home’ because they’ve been gone from home a long, long time. Even if they’ve been back for years, they still like to hear ‘welcome home.’”