U.S. Representative Jim Himes appeared alongside U.S. Army Captain Brandon Davis, a veteran of the war in Iraq, for a heartfelt, moving assembly saluting U.S. Veterans at Cider Mill School in Wilton.
Speaking to the third, fourth and fifth graders, Rep. Himes linked the bravery shown by today's soldiers to those long-ago warriors who fought to defend Ft. McHenry in 1814, over which flew the flag now known as the Star Spangled Banner.
"The soldiers stood bravely then, just like our soldiers today stand bravely on behalf of all of us," Himes said.
The students were also enthralled by the stories of Capt. Davis, who shared photos of his time in Iraq. He recounted his time at West Point and described his wartime duties, mentioning how special it was to receive care packages filled with letters from the Cider Mill students over Christmas.
His personal account helped the students see what "over there" really means in the lives of soldiers.
"In the last 10 years, over 2 million men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I spent Christmas there, my birthday, my anniversary. I tell you this because a lot of people have done the same things. They've missed the births of their children, kids' birthdays, holidays. It's the sacrifice they give for all of us."
Davis added, "One of the things you can do is write a letter, send a soldier a thank you note. The soldiers were very happy to know that the people back here in America care about what they are doing."
Many students brought their parents and grandparents who fought in U.S. wars to be honored during the ceremony, as children announced the names of their relatives over the microphone and handed each veteran a symbolic poppy as thanks for their service.
State Representative Gail Lavielle and State Senator Toni Boucher also spoke at the morning ceremonies to pay tribute to our nation's veterans.