East Texas Students Pay Tribute To Veterans

It was the children who were center stage today in an East Texas tribute. Students of Caldwell Elementary put on their dancing shoes, and brought out the pom-poms to honor veterans. The goal of the occasion was not only about honoring veterans, but it was also a chance for students to learn about appreciating freedom.

The gymnasium of Caldwell Elementary school was turned into a red, white and blue performance hall this morning, to honor those who've served our country. Students sang, danced and put on a skit for a packed house that included about 150 veterans. The show made audience members smile, but the last performance, the Ragged Old Flag, brought tears to the eyes of many.

"It's hard not to get choked up over that because that tells the story from beginning to end of our flag," said James Gill, a Korean War and Vietnam War Veteran. Veterans say the event served as a reminder of why they risked their lives for our country. "It's a pride that we don't think about until something like this occurs and then I feel like I can stand tall. Before, I felt like, 'So what?' I did it and that's what I was supposed to do," said Gill.

School officials say the event was not only meant to honor veterans, but to teach children the importance of patriotism. "They fought for our freedom and for us to have a great life and to be with each other," said Martha Rascon, 11, who took part in the basketball routine. "We want to tell the veterans thanks for helping us," said Shelby Mallart, 7, who performed in the pom pom routine.

"Seeing these programs and hearing these children doing these things today, brings back a lot of memories, some good and some not so good. But it also reminds us that what we did was worthwhile," said Gill.

School officials say it took about a month to plan and rehearse for the event. They say every child at the school got to take part in the ceremony. The students raised more than $500 for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7211 in Tyler.