Why join the military?
To help people be free, said one first grade student in Melissa Elliott’s class. To help our planet, suggested another. We want to help the country, said a third.
To help pay for college, said an adult, adding a dose of practical reality to the discussion.
“Some of us just wanted to be in the military since we were little kids,” said veteran Joseph Steadman.
Steadman, a part-time police officer with the Morenci department, served as the main speaker Monday for a Veterans Day ceremony in Mrs. Elliott’s class.
Students filled out forms ahead of time listing members of their families who have served or are serving in the armed forces.
During a “sharing circle” students took turns talking about their fathers, uncles, grandfathers and other family members. Some students had photos to show.
One spoke of a relative who lost his legs in World War II. Another student spoke of a relative who suffered a leg injury in Iraq.
One spoke of his great-grandfather. Another of his great-great-great-grandfather who fought in World War III.
World War III?
History can get a little fuzzy for first graders.
Steadman told the class that some soldiers are still missing.
“It’s very important that we remember these people,” he said, pointing to his MIA (missing in action) bracelet.
Jack Sampson of the Morenci American Legion post gave each student a small flag and Jeff Steadman, the brother of Officer Steadman, gave a commemorative dog tag to students whose parents were veterans.
The big gift was saved for class member Thomas Hodshire, whose father was killed in Iraq while the family was still living in North Adams.
Students in the class all signed a letter for Thomas in appreciation of the sacrifice by his father, Michael.