Tommie Barfield Elementary, long known for its Veterans Day Program since 2001, had a huge crowd of Veterans, supporters and parents at the 2019 program on November 8th at 8:45 in the multi-purpose room. Before the Veterans entered the room, they were able to stop and be interviewed by students in a patriotic red, white and blue seating to explain their branch of service and what they did while serving.
After they entered, they found personal individual cards created by students on their seats and most took them home. As they faced the stage, there were decorations and flags in patriotic colors and a graphic on the big screen that read, “A Salute to Our Veterans.” Students dressed in red, white and blue filled the floor and flanked the stage on bleachers on both sides.
Principal Katie Maya warmly welcomed the many guests to the program. The Lely High School JROTC Color Guard presented the colors before the “Pledge of Allegiance” and the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Next was a rousing version of “God Bless America.” We missed Herb Savage in his full-dress uniform as a U.S. Army colonel from his service in the Corps of Engineers during World War II being there to lead this song. He passed away January 1st, 2019 at the age of 99.
Emily Savage performed with a choral group from the Marco Lutheran Church who were directed in song by new TBE music teacher, Craig Greusel, who has years of musical experience and is well-known in the community. They performed the poem, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, which is printed on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty.
Third, Fourth and Fifth-grade students were eager to show their respect for the Veterans and Everyday Heroes in their lives via song and personal recognitions. Students asked the Veterans to stand, state their branch of service, years of service and when they served. Each stated his or her information into microphones held by students so all attendees could hear.
There were many attendees who are leaders in the Marco Island Community, some have attended the TBE Veterans Day Program since it started and some are new to the community.
Local fine artist, Judie McCliggott was emotional when she said, “To watch our children, our future leaders, interact with and honor those who have made history, is a touching and joyful experience.”
At the conclusion of the program, the student singers wove through the crowds to shake hands with the Veterans and thank them for their service, until they get a chance to thank them again in the future.
Rick LoCastro, a 24-year Air Force Retired Colonel, Air Force Academy Graduate and Veteran of several wars stated, “I have attended the program at Tommie Barfield Elementary for years. It’s always inspiring to see young people who are so patriotic, and teachers and parents who provide such an amazing example. Sitting in the audience as a Veteran and feeling the thanks and pride from our students and local community is humbling. Marco Island and all of Collier County is truly a close family of patriotic citizens. Continuing to instill that patriotism in our youth guarantees the future and freedom of our country.”