Proud pupils play to patriotic packed houseDec 01, 2023 09:46AM ● By Jet Burnham
Blackridge Elementary School students performed several patriotic songs to honor veterans. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)
The parking lot of Blackridge Elementary School, the parking lots of two nearby churches, and the shoulders on both sides of Rosecrest Road were packed with cars Nov. 10 as family members, neighbors and veterans attended Blackridge Elementary School’s annual Veterans Day program. The school gymnasium was packed with hundreds of adults in addition to the 866 students who scrunched together to make room for everyone.
One special visitor didn’t take up much space. Lt. Col. Greg Peirce was watching the Veterans Day program on a livestream from Iraq, where he was on active military duty. He tuned in to see his niece and nephew and their peers enthusiastically singing patriotic songs and sharing the history of the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance and the Veterans Day holiday.
Students applauded as veterans from all branches of the military were recognized, and were quiet and respectful as Ron Tranmer of the American Legion played “Taps” on his bugle in memory of fallen soldiers.
Peirce’s sister-in-law Brita Peirce proudly carried a laptop around during the performance to get the microphone and camera close to the students as they performed. Peirce’s wife also watched the program, through a family member’s phone, from Fort Bragg army base in North Carolina where her husband is stationed.
Peirce has served in the Army for 17 years and on the day of the program, was three weeks away from coming home from his final deployment. His family found out 24 hours before the program that the soldier would be available to watch the assembly.
Brita thought it was important for her kids to have a personal connection to an audience member on whom they could focus as they performed their songs. She said all the students were excited to sing for the veterans, especially one who was actively serving in a faraway country.
“It’s very obvious when you see the pride on a little child’s face,” she said. “And this gives all of these kids a reason, a person, for what they’re singing. I think it really enhances everything for everyone and makes it very real.”
Lt. Col. Peirce said in a text following the program, “It gives me great hope for the country seeing that our youth are learning the sacrifice of those before us and learning to love our country.”
Principal David Butler said Blackridge Elementary School’s annual Veterans Day assembly is one of the highlights of the year for students and teachers.
Last year, there were three program performances, but this year there were only two, one on the afternoon of Nov. 9 and one on the morning of Nov. 10. Butler admitted that it was a mistake to only schedule two performances, however he didn’t expect the huge turnout from both community members and veterans.
“Between the two days, there were over a hundred veterans who came,” he said. “And to me, that’s the coolest thing, to see them all standing [to be recognized.]”
Herriman Mayor Lorin Palmer attended the program and told students that their efforts were appreciated by the veterans. He also addressed and acknowledged the sacrifice of military personnel and their families.
“Today we honor you, we thank you, we appreciate your service,” he said. λ