By Kate Bunster
NISKAYUNA — Rosendale Elementary students were off on Veterans Day, so they observed the holiday the day before.
The children gathered in the Rosendale gym to honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans, and the crowd was a sea of patriotic attire worn by students, faculty and parents.
Interim Principal Fran Reinl explained to the students that what is now Veterans Day was first designated a legal holiday — Armistice Day — in 1938 to honor the soldiers who served in World War I. The date of Nov. 11 was picked because the war ended in an armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.
“[Veteran’s Day] is about showing our gratitude for the brave men and women who sacrificed everything to make this world a safe place for the rest of us,” said Reinl.
In the hallway, the RPI Honor Guard was lined up next to the letters the students had written to veterans.
The kids grew speechless as the guard marched through the gym doors straight-faced. They made their way through the crowd in unison until they reached the front and saluted. Some students sat wide-eyed and still, others let out a giggle. But the overall feeling was a profound respect that was noticeable by anyone in the room. This wasn’t just a shortened school day, this was something meaningful.
“The Color Guard was amazing, the entire school was so quiet! I was a little bit scared, but when Mrs. Johnston sang the national anthem, we all felt proud and we were anxious to sing our songs to honor the veterans,” said Corinne Boyle, a fourth-grader at Rosendale.
After the Honor Guard marched away, the students sang patriotic songs such as “This Land is Your Land” choreographed to hand movements and the ringing of triangles, played by the students.
“This day was especially exciting because it gave the children an opportunity to give back to the community, while being educated,” said Nita Chicatelli, a member of the Rosendale PTO.
“These songs are important to know,” said music teacher Holly Johnston, who normally doesn’t teach the patriotic songs to every grade.
When asked who their hero was, students responded with family members who serve or served in the military. “My mom is my hero. She is in the Air Force,” said Caroline Kelly.
The Veterans Day celebration, organized by the Rosendale PTO, wasn’t just a one-day event, though. The PTO had students submit photos of family members who served in the military, which were displayed outside of the main office. They also collected 125 pounds of Halloween candy to send to troops overseas. Next year, they plan to invite veterans into the school to interact with the students.
“We can’t lose sight of this next year,” said Jo Ann Sabourin, a gym teacher at Rosendale, as she thanked the Rosendale PTO Veterans Day Committee.