As a veteran who is still serving her country, Lena Morrill was honored to attend Veteran’s Day assemblies at Snoqualmie Elementary School over the past couple of years.
This year, however, was a little different.
Morrill, a 1991 Mount Si graduate, received an e-mail invite to the Snoqualmie Elementary ceremony weeks in advance. Students wanted her photo, and to know who she was and what she does.
Morrill was happy to oblige, and dutifully showed up in her dress blues last Friday, Nov. 9, as the pupils unveiled their big project.
Boys and girls in Mrs. Cuddihy’s fifth grade class at Snoqualmie Elementary spent the last month organizing the Veteran’s Day assembly.
Several boys in the class made a video slideshow of the photos and stories of veterans from the school community and families.
Pupils put on a reception, kept the goodies and muffins flowing, then led the vets to the gym for a patriotic assembly with speeches and songs.
“It’s more than I expected,” said bus driver and Navy veteran Bruce Robinson. “It’s very cool that they make the effort.”
“We want to honor them and make them feel special,” explained student Autumn Kasprowicz.
Robinson was in Navy aviation for a four-and-a-half-year tour. He flew and taught fliers how to find submarines.
“It matured me, big time,” Robinson said of his service. “I got to travel, meet a lot of different cultures. I learned how to get along with people and how to do a job.”
Accepting a letter of thanks from students was great-grandparent and veteran Robert Lee, whose great-grandson Marco Solano attends North Bend Elementary. Lee served with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Alaska during the Cold War.
Joining up right out of high school, he remembers the benefits and freedoms of serving with his small, civilian-run unit.
Morrill spent nine years of active duty with the U.S. Air Force, and is now an officer with the Air National Guard. Her son, Brock, attends school at Snoqualmie.
“It’s important for children to realize the sacrifices that, not so much my generation, but the generations before, have made in order for us to live in a free country. Even though the opportunities change as the world gets smaller, there’s still that need. We don’t live in this country for free. I think we have a misconception that the whole world looks much like we do. It’s very different.”
Service has completely molded not only Morrill’s own life, but also her brother’s—he is deployed to Afghanistan.
“It’s been everything in our lives,” she said. “It paid for college, provided us with medical (care) when we needed something to take care of illness, provided employment. The military has been instrumental in our lives.”
“I’m sure everybody in this school is amazed that you risk your life to fight for our country,” said fifth grade student Maddy Reed, who helped organize the reception and spoke in the assembly.
She called for a moment of silence to remember those who fell in service.
“Let’s give a shout out to those who are still in Afghanistan,” Reed added, rallying applause. “Let’s hope they make it back safely.”
“The sacrifices that you make and the fact that you fight and represent our nation is why we have the rights we do,” she said. “That’s what makes the USA complete and free.”
• You can learn more about programs at Snoqualmie Elementary at http://ses.svsd410.org/