Hettie Halstead Elementary School students salute local veterans
By GARY EMMERT
In a school where many of its young students have at least one parent who is or has served in the armed forces, Veterans Day holds a lot more meaning than your typical school.
On Thursday, Hettie Halstead Elementary School students had the chance to show how much they appreciate those brave veterans, veterans like Copperas Cove Mayor Frank Seffrood, who himself served our nation for 22 years in the military.
Speaking before a packed gymnasium of students, Seffrood told them, “I hope you young children appreciate why we have this day...the more you learn about it, the better this country will be.”
His remarks were followed by patriotic and fun songs performed by each grade and conducted by Paige Mitchell, the school’s music teacher.
Following their performance and the mayor’s remarks in the gym, the students lined the hallway to give “high fives” and cheer the veterans as they made their way to the cafeteria on the other side of the school for cake.
Holding the hand of his great-granddaughter who is a student at the school, Sgt. First Class (Retired) Everette White was another veteran honored that day.
White, a retired Army veteran, has been a Copperas Cove resident since 1973.
“I thought the kids today were great and what impressed me was the singing.” White spent 10-1/2 in Germany, two tours in Vietnam, and one in Korea.
“I don’t see myself doing anything outside the military, ever since I was little serving in the military has been a huge dream of mine,” said Sgt. Karina Ortiz. Born in California and raised in Washington State, Ortiz is a member of the 2nd Battalion, 182nd Field Artillery Regiment, which participates as Halstead Elementary’s adopted unit.
Fellow soldiers from her unit being honored by the battalion’s adopted school joined Ortiz. As a 13B, Cannon Crewmember, Ortiz was the first female from her state to successfully complete that training after the Army authorized women to serve in combat arms positions. Ortiz, a newly promoted sergeant, deployed with her unit to Iraq and has recently extended her enlistment so that she may accompany them to their upcoming mission in Korea.
Whether their careers begin, continue, or end in this area, the veterans in attendance last Thursday left Hettie Halstead Elementary with smiles on their faces and pride in their hearts. Not only pride for the brave decision they made to answer the call of duty, but also in the performances and support the children, teachers, and faculty displayed in their honor.